Maleficent is Magical at Weekend Box Office
By John Hamann
June 1, 2014
Despite not appearing on screen since 2010’s The Tourist (which was invisible to domestic audiences), Angelina Jolie proves with Maleficent that she can still draw a crowd. Whether Maleficent over-performed this weekend due to the star or the concept is an interesting argument.
The concept film has ruled the month of May at the box office, first with The Amazing Spider-Man 2, then with Godzilla, and further with X-Men: Days of Future Past. All of these "concept" films opened to more than $90 million. Neighbors was star-driven and opened to $50 million, and this weekend we have Angelina Jolie and Maleficent, the story of Sleeping Beauty, told through the eyes of the villain. From Disney, Maleficent was costly to bring to the screen at $180 million, which means Disney had a lot on the line, as this one would likely need $175-$200 million on the domestic side to get to a worldwide profit against that budget. Snow White and the Huntsman set the template, as it cost $170 million and grossed $397 million worldwide. Despite the big number, it likely failed to bring much of a profit to those at Universal, at least from the theatrical release.
With big expectations and much on the line, Maleficent got started on Thursday, and earned a surprisingly large $4.2 million. I had expected that figure to be about half of what it was, as Oz the Great and Powerful earned approximately $2 million from its previews, while Snow White and the Huntsman took in $1.9 million. Again, there are so many factors around these previews, from start times to season (Oz opened in early March), so there isn’t too much weight to put into that figure. The Friday figure is different, though, and for Maleficent that figure came in at $24.2 million, an extremely solid start for a very expensive picture. Oz had an opening day of $24.1 million, but its "true" Friday was higher due to lower Thursday previews. Oz had a "true" Friday of $22.1 million, where the actual Friday for Maleficent was $20.1 million. Snow White opened in similar fashion, earning $20.5 million on its first day, but its "true" Friday was $18.6 million once the $1.9 million in previews are removed. These number show how important the Saturday and Sundays are for films like these, as Oz finished the weekend at $79.1 million, and Snow White finished with $56.2 million, a difference of $23 million.
On the Saturday, Oz increased over its Friday by a powerful 37%, earning $33 million. Snow White was flat, increasing only 3% from its Friday number, earning $21 million. This showed that Oz was more kid-friendly than Snow White and the Huntsman. The test is now out to Maleficent to see how kid-friendly it is perceived to be, despite the darkness put forward in the marketing materials. Normally, I consider studio executives drawing all box office meaning from the Friday gross, but with Maleficent, many eyes would be on the Saturday increase from Friday. Maleficent’s Saturday came in at $25.6 million, up 6% from Friday, and the Sunday was estimated at $20.1 million. The weekend multiplier was 2.9, which tells us it somewhat played as a movie for families.