Top Film Industry Stories of 2014 #8:
Angelina Jolie's Year Was Bigger Than Her Horns

By Kim Hollis

January 6, 2015

She's thinking of ways to punish Scott Rudin.

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“If you ask people what they’ve always wanted to do, most people haven’t done it. That breaks my heart.” --Angelina Jolie

No one would ever accuse Angelina Jolie of a lack of ambition and drive. Since her career kicked off with Hackers in 1995, her movies have an average box office take of $69 million. She has won an Academy Award. Despite the fact that she is one of the hardest working women in Hollywood, she has made her family a priority. And somehow she’s managed to do all this while staying entirely true to herself. People may think her odd and spoiled, but there’s no arguing the fact that she is one of the industry’s true shining stars. When her name is attached to a project, it matters.

And somehow, 2014 was her biggest year ever.


Jolie had dominated headlines in 2013 for a unique and surprising reason. She underwent a double mastectomy as testing had indicated that her genetics marked her as a candidate for breast cancer. Her decision to talk about her surgery publicly increased awareness of the disease and the use of genetic testing as a preventative measure. In March of 2014, Jolie revealed that she would also plan to have an oophorectomy – ovary removal surgery. Because she has inherited the gene known as BRCA1, her likelihood of contracting either ovarian or breast cancer is quite high, and her mother died from the former at the tender age of 56. Once again, Jolie’s willingness to be open on such a private and delicate subject was inspiring for women going through similar experiences.

Two months later, Jolie was preparing to return to movie screens for the first time in three and a half years. On its surface, there was not that much to distinguish Maleficent from earlier fairly tale adaptations such as Snow White and the Huntsman, Mirror Mirror, or Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters. All three of those films had top-tier lead performers (Kristen Stewart and Charlize Theron for Snow White and the Huntsman, Julia Roberts for Mirror Mirror, and Jeremy Renner for Hansel and Gretel) and saw varying levels of box office success. Given that historically Jolie has been more popular with male moviegoers than women, the belief was that the female demographic might not offer Maleficent enough support to allow it to fully break out.

Whether it was Jolie’s higher profile due to her relatable health issues or simply Disney’s marketing machine in overdrive, Maleficent debuted with a fantastical $69.4 million. It would go on to show remarkable staying power throughout the summer, finishing its run at the domestic box office with $241.4 million. That amount was good enough for sixth place overall in North America in 2014, meaning that Maleficent bested such tested franchise films as X-Men: Days of Future Past and The Amazing Spider-Man 2. Even better, the film had intense interest from international audiences, earning $516.3 million from overseas venues. Since Maleficent should have just been another attempt to cash in on the fairy tale craze, the credit for its success does seem to fully rest on Jolie’s shoulders. She embodied the character completely, so much so that her children even asked her to do the “Maleficent voice” at home.

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