"X-Men: First Class" came before "The Hunger Games," but the post-apocalyptic battle to even up civilization is taking the inside lane for a sequel first.
Twentieth Century Fox says it will begin filming its followup to its surprise 2011 hit next January, prepping it for a late 2013 release. A two-year gap is not very long for a film franchise like X-Men, but it might not have been so long if one of its stars was available sooner.
That's because X-Men's Mystique has made a name of her own. Jennifer Lawrence, who took on the role originated by Rebecca Romijn, is now best known for her starring role in "The Hunger Games," and the planned sequel for that blockbuster film is set to go before the cameras later this year.
"Hunger Games: Catching Fire" is expected to start filming in August, and should wrap in plenty of time for Lawrence to make a jump back into the blue scaly skin for another outing with the X-Men.
It wasn't clear if Fox and Marvel would be able to relaunch its X-Men franchise with a younger cast (and a different time period), but decided to go all-in and invest $160 million into the vision of Matthew Vaughn, a newer director whose biggest hit before X-Men was "Kick-Ass." "X-Men: First Class" went on to earn $146.4 million at the domestic box office, but $352.6 million worldwide.
"Hunger Games," however, is already past that. That film has already earned $253 million domestically and another $113.9 million overseas, according to The Numbers, and it's just going into its third week.
Relations between Fox and "Hunger Games" studio Lionsgate were not necessarily very cozy. Fox could have filmed "First Class" in the fall as originally planned, and forced Lionsgate to push its filming back. But even with the move by Fox, Lionsgate still reportedly had wanted to keep contract holds on all of its actors through January, but pulled back after Fox protested.
The sequel will have a bit of a different writing style than the first "X-Men" revival. Ashley Edward Miller, Zack Stentz and Jane Goldman are stepping aside to welcome Simon Kinberg back to the X-Men fold. That might have some fans worried, however. Kinberg co-wrote "X-Men: The Last Stand" with Zak Penn. While that film did earn more than $460 million worldwide, it was not well-liked by critics. Just 57 percent of them gave "Last Stand" a positive review, according to Rotten Tomatoes while "First Class" was liked by 87 percent of critics.
That put "First Class" more in line with the first two X-Men films, both of which were critics darlings, while "Last Stand" only did better than "X-Men Origins: Wolverine," which was liked by just 37 percent of critics.
The X-Men franchise has made $930.9 million domestically for Fox over the last decade on films the studio spent $705 million to create. The current franchise stars Lawrence, James McAvoy, Alice Eve and Michael Fassbender.
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