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X-Men July 21, 2000

Has the Mighty Marvel Movie Curse been finally X-orcised? The results of this past weekend's opening of Bryan Singer's long anticipated "X-Men" may finally bring about the end to the dreaded albatross that has plagued Marvel films of the past.

Or will it?

Marvel Entertainment has had a slew of less than successful film campaigns. The dreaded 1992 Captain America went straight-to video while 1989's The Punisher, starring Dolph Lundgren, didn't fair much better. As for The World's Greatest Magazine, The Fantastic Four ... completed but immediately shelved in lieu of a bigger production in the future. The only success Marvel has truly achieved is from a non mainstream character, "Blade: the Vampire Slayer," which starred Wesley Snipes. Opening in 1998, Blade took in a $70 million domestically and a sequel is much anticipated.

Now, comes the heavily hyped Singer/Fox Film collaboration based on one of the most popular comic titles in the industry. Ringing in nearly $54.5 million in its first three days, it's box office numbers make the film rank #8 of all time for an opening, #4 for a three-day (non-holiday) span, and #3 for a non-sequel.

Singer had this to say why he thought the film was pulling in audiences:

"...God bless the fans. What's interesting is that a lot of women and people of all ages and all demographics seem to be responding to it ... As far as the key to its success, I think it's taking the X-Men comic book universe seriously, treating it like a science fiction film based on this amazing world, not just making a comic book movie..."

The real test now is how the "X-Men" will fare over the next few weeks. Word of mouth will hype the film further or send it spiraling into your local Blockbuster. The reviews have been fairly supportive of the movie, though the film’s 104 minutes doesn't allow enough time for several characters to be fully developed. The story revolves more around Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) and Magneto (Ian McKellen) while others receive very little development; including Storm (Halle Berry), Sabretooth (Tyler Mane), Mystique (Rebecca Romijn-Stamos) and the Toad (Ray Park).

Even if the film fails to achieve immediate "blockbuster" status, it wouldn't be anything new to the "X-men" franchise. When Stan Lee created the "X-Men" in 1963, they were like many of their Marvel predecessors -- an unusual heroic group but clearly flawed. The title struggled for years to stay afloat and even went into reprints in the early 70's. It wasn't until 12 years later, with the introduction of the new team, did the "X-Men" begin to achieve the stature they now have.

Hopefully with this film, we won't have to wait a dozen years. With 3000+ theaters domestically and numerous theaters to receive the film overseas, the "minuscule" budget of $75 million should be easily surpassed, making the "X-men" a financial success. But ... the end result (what makes the film a true success) isn't how much money the film brings in. It's success lies in what attitudes it changes towards the comic industry [as a whole] and what demons are exorcised that have plagued her from the beginning.

Will comic books now be embraced into the mainstream and accepted as bona fide literature? Or will they continue to be considered anti-social? For the less cerebral? Outcasts...much like the "X-Men?"

DVD NEWS UPDATE: September 20th

As first reported on Sept. 10th, the X-Men DVD has now an official street date -- NOV 21.
Included on the disc:

  • Extensive deleted scenes section
  • Gallery of production art (150 images)
  • Theatrical trailer
  • Interview footage w/ director Bryan Singer
  • TV spots
  • Behind-the-scenes featurette
  • Anamorphic transfer
  • DTS and Dolby 5.1 soundtracks
  • Easter eggs
Thanks to Rob's Comics2Film site for the info!

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