As expected the latest summer blockbuster super hero film was the top money earner this weekend.

The latest episode of the long-running and popular X-Men franchise, X-Men: First Class, took the number one spot at the North American box office this weekend. The 20th Century Fox release easily beat out holdovers The Hangover Part II and Kung-Fu Panda 2, both of which took the standard post-holiday drops to land in second and third place, respectively. Once again, the box office continued to show improved signs of life as the top ten rose approximately 29% over this time a year ago.

Since its debut eleven years ago this July, the X-Men franchise has remained a popular draw at the national box office. Following the trilogy that spanned from 2000-2006, the series' next step of cinematic evolution was to do prequels. The first was 2009's Wolverine, which withstood critical and fanboy scorn to earn a big $179.8 million. A film centering around Magneto, played in the first three films by Ian McKellen, was to be next. That project went through several creative twists and turns, eventually evolving into an origin story about the start of the X-Men team in the early 1960s.

Directed by Matthew Vaughn (Kick-Ass) and starring James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Jennifer Lawrence and Kevin Bacon, X-Men: First Class arrived on 3,641 screens this weekend to earn a solid but slightly underwhelming (in comparison to the previous mutant flicks) $56 million in estimated ticket sales. In comparison to the new film's debut, 2003's X2 opened to a huge $85.5 million, X-Men: The Last Stand commanded the 2006 Memorial Day weekend to the tune of $102.7 million while Wolverine opened with $85 million. The opening for the 2000 original was close to the opening of First Class with $54.4 million.

via Weekend Box Office: "X-Men" Finishes First In the Top Ten "Class" | TheHDRoom.