LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - The fifth movie in the "X-Men" series took the No. 1 spot at the weekend box office in North America after selling about $56 million worth of tickets, distributor 20th Century Fox said on Sunday.
The opening for "X-Men: First Class" was in line with the studio's relatively modest expectations but paled against most of the other films in the Marvel comic book franchise. The previous one opened to $85 million two years ago.
Sales data was not immediately available from the film's foreign showings in 75 countries.
"X-Men: First Class," which reportedly cost about $160 million to make before tax credits, is a prequel dealing with the formative years of the characters who go on form the "X-Men" stable of mutant superheroes.
Instead of hiring A-list talent, Fox went with critically acclaimed British director Matthew Vaughn ("Kick-Ass") and actors James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender.
McAvoy and Fassbender play the lead roles originated by Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen in 2000's "X-Men" and two sequels. A 2009 spinoff, "X-Men Origins: Wolverine," starred Hugh Jackman in the title role. Jackman has a cameo in the new film.
Critics and fans gave the new film the thumbs up and the solid start at the box office virtually guarantees more "X-Men" movies down the road.
"X-Men: First Class" also stars recent Oscar nominee Jennifer Lawrence, "Mad Men" actress January Jones and Kevin Bacon. Fox is a unit of News Corp. Marvel is a unit of Walt Disney Co.
Last weekend's champion, "The Hangover: Part II," slipped to No. 2 with $32.4 million, taking its 10-day total to $186.9 million. The raunchy comedy is well ahead of the pace of its 2009 predecessor, which earned $105 million at the same time and ended up with $277 million.
The films were released by Warner Bros., a unit of Time Warner Inc.
(Reporting by Dean Goodman; Editing by John O'Callaghan)