Marvel Studios has spent so much time atop the box office lately it could apply for residency.
The comic-book titan's latest offering, X-Men: Days of Future Past, breezed to the top of theaters over the Memorial Day holiday this weekend, the eighth straight No. 1 film for the studio.
Past collected $111 million over the four-day holiday, according to studio estimates from Rentrak.
The debut eclipsed the expectations of most analysts, who forecast Marvel would seize the top movie at the box office for the fifth time in the past eight weeks. BeforeX-Men, The Amazing Spider-Man 2 and Captain America: The Winter Soldiercombined to hold the top perch for a month.
More impressively, Marvel hasn't opened a film below No. 1 since Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance in February 2012. That $57 million Nicolas Cage sequel opened in fourth place at $26 million and went on to muster just $52 million overall.
But the studio hasn't had a misstep since, cranking out hits that include The Avengersand sequels to Thor and Iron Man.
"Marvel has created a movie brand that ranks among the most consistently successful in history," says Rentrak's Paul Dergarabedian. "Much like Pixar, Marvel has cultivated a reputation for delivering a moviegoing experience that never fails to deliver above and beyond expectations."
And X-pectations were huge for the recurring story of mutant superheroes. The entry marked the seventh major film version of the comic book, making the title the second-most adapted in Hollywood, behind only Batman.
Critics were fanboys this weekend: About 91% of the nation's reviewers recommended the movie, according to aggregators Rotten Tomatoes. The movie earned an A from moviegoers, says pollster CinemaScore.
John Hamann, analyst for Box Office Prophets, says that distributor Twentieth Century, director Bryan Singer "and the X-Men demonstrate perfectly how to reboot a comic series franchise" after last year's entry, The Wolverine, became the series' lowest-grosser at $133 million.
While X-Men righted the ship, Adam Sandler's career appears to be listing. His reunion with Drew Barrymore in the comedy Blended fell well below expectations, taking third place with $18.2 million, well below his average opening of $25 million a movie, according to Box Office Mojo. Only 15% of critics gave it a thumbs-up, though fans gave it an A- grade.
Godzilla took second place with $39.5 million, while the comedy Neighbors was fourth with $17.2 million.
Spider-Man rounded out the top five with $10 million. Final figures are due Tuesday.