A team of mutant heroes may claw its way to the biggest box-office opening of the year this weekend.
Director Bryan Singer's "X-Men: Days of Future Past" could gross more than $100 million in ticket sales from the United States and Canada through Memorial Day on Monday, according to people who have seen prerelease audience surveys.
The highest projections put the 3-D movie's take at $120 million.
The studio behind the PG-13 movie, 20th Century Fox, is more cautious, saying it will likely haul in $95 million to $100 million over the holiday weekend. The studio said "X-Men" would face strong competition from "Godzilla," which opened big last weekend.
The studio also noted that with "Godzilla," "Captain America: The Winter Soldier" and "The Amazing Spider-Man 2" there has been no shortage of big-budget action flick releases recently.
"X-Men: Days of Future Past," the seventh film in the series that Singer kicked off in 2000, marks the big-screen return of Marvel characters Wolverine (Hugh Jackman), Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence), Professor X (Patrick Stewart) and Magneto (Ian McKellen). In "Days of Future Past" the X-Men of the original trilogy send the claw-wielding, fast-healing Wolverine back in time to join forces with their younger selves (previously seen in 2011's "X-Men: First Class").
Singer, whose last "X-Men" directing effort was "X2: X-Men United" in 2003, has elicited praise from critics for his handling of the complicated plot, as evidenced by a score of around 90% "fresh" from Rotten Tomatoes. Singer pulled out of the promotional campaign for the new movie after a lawsuit filed in April accused him of sexually abusing a teenager in the late 1990s.
The big ensemble cast also includes James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Halle Berry, Anna Paquin, Ellen Page, Evan Peters, Omar Sy and Peter Dinklage.
The last time an "X-Men" film opened with more than $100 million was 2006's "X-Men: The Last Stand," which also debuted over a Memorial Day weekend and amassed nearly $123 million over four days on its way to a $459-million worldwide gross.
"X-Men," which cost $200 million to make, will need to clear $95 million to top "Captain America: The Winter Soldier" as the biggest opening of the year so far. The red-white-and-blue-clad super-soldier has grossed more than $250 million domestically so far, along with more than $450 million overseas, for a worldwide total exceeding $700 million.
"Godzilla," the 3-D monster movie from Warner Bros. and Legendary Pictures, nearly matched "Captain America's" opening with a $93-million launch last week.
Moviegoers will have a romantic alternative to the superhero and rampaging reptilian fare in the form of "Blended," a PG-13 Warner Bros. comedy starring Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore. The poorly reviewed rom-com, which had a production budget of $45 million, is likely to gross $30 million through Monday.