‘Maleficent’ Casts $69 Million Spell on Weekend Filmgoers

“Maleficent,” Walt Disney Co.’s live-action twist on the animated classic “Sleeping Beauty,” captured the box-office crown with a $69.4 million weekend debut, surpassing forecasts.

The film, starring Angelina Jolie, pushed past 21st Century Fox Inc.’s “X-Men: Days of Future Past,” which dropped to second with ticket sales of $32.6 million in U.S. and Canadian theaters, Rentrak Corp. said in an e-mailed statement today. “A Million Ways to Die in the West,” the new Seth MacFarlane romp, collected $16.8 million for Universal Pictures to place third.

“Maleficent,” buoyed by Jolie’s portrayal of the embittered fairy, marks another success for Disney’s movie division, following the Marvel sequel “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” and last year’s “Frozen.” This time the studio retold one of its classics from the point of view of the villainess. Researcher BoxOffice.com had estimated a $68.5 million opening, while Box Office Guru forecast $62 million.

“You can’t touch Disney,” said Phil Contrino, chief analyst at BoxOffice.com.

Disney’s film business has delivered results with its well-known Marvel superheroes, animated films from Pixar and new animated properties such as “Frozen,” which collected $1.22 billion in worldwide ticket sales and gave Disney a lucrative merchandising line.

Innocent Fairy

The studio also has exploited libraries of older movies by re-imagining characters and story lines. “Oz The Great and Powerful” took in $79.1 million in its debut last March, and “Alice in Wonderland” grossed $116.1 million in its March 2010 opening.

In the new film, the action is centered around Maleficent, the villainess of Disney’s 1959’s “Sleeping Beauty.” Jolie plays an innocent fairy who is betrayed, her wings removed, after defending her land from an invading army. Bent on revenge, she places a sleeping curse on the enemy king’s newborn infant Aurora, dooming the girl to endless slumber once she reaches 16. As the child grows, Maleficent realizes the girl holds the key to peace in the kingdom and her own happiness.

The movie, made for $200 million according to Imdb.com, received a mixed response from critics, garnering a 50 percent positive rating on review aggregator RottenTomatoes.com.

Jolie “breezes through the movie, part superstar, part superfreak,” wrote Manohla Dargis in the New York Times.

The film, directed by Robert Stromberg, was praised by critics for its visual effects and Jolie’s startling makeover, which has spawned cosmetics sales and YouTube how-to videos.

Cowardly Farmer

“It’s a spectacular-looking film in 3-D, really lush and taking you places you’ve never been,” producer Joe Roth said in an interview. “I felt that Angie is such a force on her own that the best way to support her was to have a great visual background.”

“A Million Ways to Die in the West,” the spoof western that reunites MacFarlane with the production company behind his 2012 hit “Ted,” Media Rights Capital, was projected to collect $25 million in its opening.

MacFarlane, who also directed the movie, stars as a cowardly farmer who begins to fall for a mysterious new woman. His newfound courage is tested when the woman’s husband, a gunslinger, arrives on the scene.

The movie received a 33 percent positive rating on RottenTomatoes.com.

“X-Men: Days of Future Past,” starring Hugh Jackman and Patrick Stewart, is the second of a new trilogy that Fox is producing. The “X-Men” series in total has collected $2.81 billion, including the sales so far of the latest movie, according to Box Office Mojo.

Weekend revenue for the top 10 films fell 1.2 percent to $157.7 million from the year-earlier period, Rentrak said. Domestic box-office sales year to date are $4.22 billion, up 2.6 percent from a year earlier.

The following table has U.S. movie box office figures provided by studios to Rentrak. The amounts are based on gross ticket sales from May 30 to June 1.

                      Rev.   Pct.            Avg./    Total
  Movie             (mln)    Chg. Theaters  Theater   (mln)  Wks
1 Maleficent        $69.4     --    3,948  $17,586    $69.4    1
2 X-Men: Days Of     32.6    -64    4,001    8,136    162.0    2
3 Million Ways       16.8     --    3,158    5,319     16.8    1
4 Godzilla           12.0    -61    3,501    3,430    174.4    3
5 Blended             8.1    -43    3,555    2,291     29.4    2
6 Neighbors           8.1    -42    2,939    2,749    129.0    4
7 Spider-Man 2        3.8    -52    2,152    1,756    192.7    5
8 Million Dollar Arm  3.6    -49    2,329    1,541     28.0    3
9 Chef                1.9    -16      624    3,063      6.8    4
10 The Other Woman    1.4    -63    1,114    1,247     81.1    6

Top 10 Films Grosses

This Week Year Ago Pct. (mln) (mln) Chg. =================================== $157.7 $159.6 -1.2

Year-to-date Revenue

2014 2013 YTD YTD Pct. (mln) (mln) Chg. =================================== $4,222 $4,114 +2.6 Source: Rentrak Corp.
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