Weekend Wrap-Up

Maleficent is Magical at Weekend Box Office

By John Hamann

June 1, 2014

A little penicillin ought to clear that right up.

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That gives the $170 million Disney release a weekend estimate of $70 million, a very solid total for a non-sequel release. It was released to 3,948 venues, many of them of the 3D or IMAX variety, and it earned a venue average of $17,730. The debut is in the same ball park as big hitters like The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, Witch and Wardrobe, which opened to $65.5 million, Frozen at $67.4 million, and Brad Pitt’s World War Z, which opened to $66.4 million. Disney will be pleased with the strong start, as it almost guarantees a $200 million plus finish, given the A Cinemascore it received this weekend. Reviews weren’t as strong and were in fact split almost exactly down the middle, with a Rotten Tomatoes score of 50% from both general reviews and those from "top critics". Reviews were very similar to that of Johnny Depp’s Alice in Wonderland, where critics were also split, with that film’s score currently at 51%.

For Angelina Jolie, Maleficent brings the biggest opening weekend of her career. Her live action best came with Mr. & Mrs. Smith, which opened to $50.3 million and went on to earn $186.3 million domestically and almost a half-billion worldwide. Her biggest debut came from Kung Fu Panda, where she had a supporting voice role. Panda opened to $60 million, and brought a worldwide cumulative total of $630 million; Jolie is also attached to Kung Fu Panda 3.

Overseas grosses are also likely to be very big for Maleficent, thanks in large part to Jolie. All of her films since 2004’s Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow have grossed significantly more overseas than they have domestic, so $200 million in North America should equal $300 million at least overseas, which would be more than enough to put Maleficent into the black. It already has over $100 million from international venues, so it's off to a fine start.


Finishing second is X-Men: Days of Future Past, and after a $90.8 million three-day/$110.6 million four-day Memorial Day weekend splash, those X-Men are coming back to earth in a hurry. X-Men could only pull in $32.6 million this weekend, after a 73.5% decline when comparing Fridays. The weekend-to-weekend drop was a bit better at 64%, and compared to X-Men: The Last Stand, which dropped 67%, this result isn’t all bad. The last X-Men release, First Class, dropped 56%, but was falling from a $55 million opening weekend (First Class didn’t earn what Days of Future Past did in four days until its 16th days of release). Before anyone hits the panic button on this $200 million film, let’s remember that Days of Future Past will finish with more than $225 million domestically, and has already earned $220 million at the overseas box office. Future Past has a domestic gross so far of $162.1 million.

Seth MacFarlane laid his first turd since hosting the Oscars with this weekend’s release of A Million Ways to Die in the West. The comedic western (why?) earned only $6.1 million on Friday night, and was able to turn that into a weekend estimate of $17.1 million, a weekend number that is lower than the opening night of his last film, Ted (it earned $20.6 million on its first day). With MacFarlane, I always think that he’s trying to see what he can get away with, whether it be what goes on on Family Guy, or having a Teddy Bear sit on the couch with a bunch of hookers smoking pot. This time around, it seemed that he wanted to prove that he could make a comedic-western, and have it make money. It might make some money given its $40 million budget, but this film was marketed incessantly, and I can only begin to imagine the cost of Universal’s campaign. Ted did very well overseas as well, so MacFarlane might be a known quantity over there; however, if Rango, an animated comedic western starring international superstar Johnny Depp didn’t work overseas, will this? It didn’t receive good reviews, and the Cinemascore was only a B, so Universal will need to be lucky to see a profit on this one.

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