‘Maleficent’ Not All That Magnificent At Box Office

A pair of belated sequels –Disney’s Maleficent: Mistress of Evil and Sony’s Zombieland: Double Tap– arrived to challenge Joker at the North America box office this weekend. Of the two, Maleficent had just enough multiplex magic in it to take over the top spot while Double Tap settled for third.

Over the past decade, the Walt Disney Studios has had huge success with live-action rehashes of their animated classics. This year alone, Aladdin and The Lion King were responsible for bringing in nearly three billion dollars to the Mouse House’s bank account and it was done without too much creative effort.

However, reheating the familiar doesn’t always guarantee an easy billion dollar box office. Despite great reviews, the live-action Pete’s Dragon flew low at the box office back in the summer of 2016. Earlier that same year, the sequel to the billion dollar-grossing Alice in Wonderland, Alice Through the Looking Glass, was a monumental bomb, losing the studio nearly $70 million dollars. The less said about this past spring’s Dumbo, the better.

With a not so magical $36 million brought in from 3,790 screens this weekend, you can now add Maleficent: Mistress of Evil to the Disney Box Office Hall of Shame. Arriving a little over five years after the original Maleficent, the opening for the $185 million Mistress of Evil was a whopping 48% lower than the $69 million debut of the 2014 original.

The nation’s critics didn’t care for the first Maleficent and they also weren’t fans of the new Mistress of Evil, which stars Angelina Jolie, Elle Fanning and Michelle Pfeiffer.  The press gave Mistress a lowly 41% approval on Rotten Tomatoes and an equally weak 43/100 on Metacritic. Opening day viewers were a bit more receptive to the return of Maleficent and Sleeping Beauty, giving the film an “A” on CinemaScore.

Did the bad reviews contribute to Maleficent 2’s somewhat quiet start? It’s doubtful. After all, bad notices didn’t seem to harm the box office runs of Aladdin, The Lion King or the first Maleficent, which earned close to $800 million worldwide. No, the low start is more attributed to the studio waiting too long to make a sequel that few wanted in the first place. In short, Disney learned nothing from Alice Through the Looking Glass, and that is going to cost them in the long run.

That is unless the global box office over performs. Mistress of Evil opened in every foreign market outside of North America this past weekend, which translated to a $117 million debut. A good start to be sure, but is it enough to carry the film not only to the breakeven point, but also to profitability? The next few weeks will determine the answer to that.

One film that is having no box office issues whatsoever is Warner’s Joker, which kept dancing and laughing its way into the record books. In its third weekend on 4,090 screens, the $55 million Joker dropped 48% to score an estimated $29.2 million. This brought its North American total up to a great $247.2 million. Joker is now the 9thhighest grossing R-rated film of all time and will continue to climb up the charts as it heads towards the $300 million mark.

Overseas, the Todd Phillips smash scored another $78 million this weekend, which brought its international total up to $490.3 million. The top five foreign markets for Joker are the U.K. ($50 million), Mexico ($36.4 million), South Korea ($33 million), Brazil ($25.5 million) and Russia with $25.3 million. With $737 million in ticket sales so far, there is a strong possibility that Joker may join the billion-dollar club by the end of its run.

Ten years ago, the horror comedy Zombieland became a $75 million box office sleeper hit. This weekend, the sequel Zombieland: Double Tap arrived on the scene, starting with a solid $26.7 million from 3,468 theaters.

The $42 million Sony sequel –which reunites the director and cast of the first Zombieland-received okay notices from the press and public: 68% on Rotten Tomatoes, a 56/100 on Metacritic and a B+ on CinemaScore.

UA’s The Addams Family held well in its second weekend on 4,102 screens where it scared up an estimated $16 million. Down 47%, the ten-day total for the animated family comedy stands at $57 million. The upcoming Halloween holiday should give The Addams Family enough of a boost for it to wind down between $85-90 million domestically.

Rounding out the top five was the Paramount dud Gemini Man, which fell a steep 59% in its second weekend on 3,642 screens to earn an estimated $8.5 million. After ten days, the Will Smith misfire has brought in a terrible $36.5 million so far. At this rate, the domestic final for the pricey Ang Lee film will be near the $55 million mark. Overseas, Gemini Man has brought in $82.2 million so far.

  1.  Abominable (Universal) $3.5 million (-42%); $54 million
  2.  Downton Abbey (Focus) $3 million (-37%); $88.6 million
  3.  Judy (Roadside) $2 million (-36%); $19 million
  4.  Hustlers (STX) $2 million (-47%); $102 million
  5.  IT: Chapter Two (Warner) $1.5 million (-52%); $209.6 million

Next weekend sees the arrival of Black and Blue, Countdown and The Current War: Director’s Cut into wide release. None of those films will make much of an impact, so don’t be surprised if you see Joker climb back up to the top spot.

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