There was a time when the X-Men franchise was one of the biggest around. The original X-Men opened with the fifth-biggest opening weekend of all time back in 2000 ($54 million) and the biggest non-sequel debut ever back in the day. When X2: X-Men United opened with $85m back in May of 2003, it was the fourth-biggest opening weekend of all time. When X-Men: The Last Stand debuted on this weekend back in 2006, it snagged the second-biggest single day of all time with a $45m Friday and ended up with just the fifth $100m debut ever and the fourth-top Fri-Sun opening weekend of all time.

So if I seem overly harsh on what could be a $75-$85 million Fri-Mon debut, it’s because the franchise was once a god among insects. X-Men: Apocalypse had the fourth-lowest opening day out of nine X-Men films. Opening on the same weekend as two of the biggest entries, the ninth X-Men movie (and the sixth team-up X-Men movie) earned $26.4 million on Friday, including $8.2m in Thursday previews.

That means it did 31% of its Friday business on Thursday night, compared to Days of Future Past ($8.1 million Thursday/$35.5m Friday) which made 22% of its opening day business in previews.

Even with inflation and a 3D bump factored in, it had a smaller Friday than X2 ($31m), X-Men: The Last Stand ($45m), X-Men Origins: Wolverine ($34m), X-Men: Days of Future Past ($35m), and Deadpool ($47m).  When you factor in the 3D bump, it arguably didn’t sell that many more tickets than X-Men: First Class ($21m back in 2011 in 2D).

We should acknowledge that Fox and Walt Disney chose to inexplicably go head-to-head this weekend, with Alice Through the Looking Glass opening yesterday as well. But X-Men: Days of Future Past had to contend with the second $38 million Fri-Mon weekend of Godzilla, which arguably played to the same demos, back in 2014. So that’s not in itself an excuse.

We should also note that this Bryan Singer trilogy capper received some miserable reviews and that it will be arguably the only comic book superhero movie this year that really wasn’t offering anything audiences hadn’t seen before. The last installment offered a superb gimmick: an adaptation of a fan-favorite time travel story that combined the First Class cast with the original trilogy participants.

This one was merely another sequel with the less popular newbies. Yes, they had Jennifer Lawrence as a proverbial action lead. They had Oscar Isaac fresh off The Force Awakens as the title baddie. They even had Olivia Munn as fan-favorite Psylocke. But, along with Alexandra Shipp as a younger Storm, these would-be “incentives” were mostly wasted in order to yet again focus on Michael Fassbender’s Magneto.

The reviews made this very clear, and if we make an argument that reviews matter for movies like this it’s when they affirm or deny that a given film offers the stuff you wanted to see. Or maybe the popularity of the X-Men franchise really is tied into how much Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine shows up with the team. That’s a scary thought, especially if Hugh Jackman really does choose to hang up the claws.

I will be honest, two years ago I expected a bigger debut for X-Men: Days of Future Past. The well-reviewed “Franchise All Stars to the Rescue” installment had ten years of inflation and a 3D bump on X-Men: The Last Stand. I also knew that the X-Men films have famously terrible legs, so I figured that it had to make the majority of whatever it was going to make on its opening weekend.

But while Days of Future Past did make less on its debut weekend than The Last Stand ($110.5 million vs. $122.8m), it was a slightly leggier blockbuster getting awfully close to the Brett Ratner film’s $234m domestic total. Moreover, that ten-year span and 3D bump paid off overseas, when the Bryan Singer film made an eye-popping $513m overseas for a $747m worldwide cume.

This from a franchise whose previous high was $457 million global. So when we look at that $26m opening day and some potentially grim domestic forecasts, there is a likely silver lining. First and foremost, Fox brought this latest installment in for around $178 million, which was a lot less than the $220 million-ish Days of Future Past. Second of all, the film could stand to make a lot less than the last installment in America if it continues to crush it overseas.

If the film plays like Days of Future Past over the weekend, we’re looking at a $68 million Fri-Sun/$83m Fri-Mon opening weekend. And then if it has the legs of that last movie domestically, it ends up with $173m domestic. As long as it still plays well overseas (it had $130m going into the weekend), no harm, no foul. But if it plays like The Last Stand, this could get ugly. It’ll be a $60m/$72m weekend and will end its domestic run with $137m.

Now we could mix-and-match those potential outcomes ($73 million weekend and a $151m U.S. total or an $83m weekend and a $156m domestic cume. Of course, if it makes another $400-$500m overseas this is almost trivia. But this will likely be a severe domestic downturn for a somewhat vital “Can the franchise thrive without Wolverine?” installment. We’ll know more tomorrow, but for the record it should be noted that Fox sold the heck out of this thing.

Box Office: ‘X-Men: Apocalypse' Scores Troubling $26.4M Friday