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‘Maleficent’ Bewitches Friday Box Office, Shows Power of Jolie (and Female Stars)

'Maleficent' Bewitches Friday Box Office, Shows Power of Jolie (and Female Stars)

With “Maleficent(Buena Vista), Angelina Jolie now joins Jennifer Lawrence, Sandra Bullock, Cameron Diaz, Melissa McCarthy and Rooney Mara as an actress who has recently opened a movie to strong initial returns better, in many cases, than some male stars considered safe bets for franchise efforts. 

All but one of their films have been either standalone or, at worst, the first of a new series. Disney’s (expensive, at $180 million) retelling of its classic “Sleeping Beauty” tale from the perspective of the iconic evil wicked queen grossed $24,248,000 for its opening (including Thursday night shows) and looks poised to have a total weekend a little ahead of advance projections. The initial international take looks solid (including Wednesday openings, $41 million additional) as well.

Also opening, but only at #3, was Seth McFarlane’s comedy “A Million Ways to Die in the West” (Universal), which with a $6.1 million start doesn’t look to replicate the recent success of “Neighbors” or MacFarlane’s own “Ted.” Anything less than a decent bump in today’s figures would suggest that this is a rare comic failure from the studio, which has also scored with “Ride Along,” “Identity Thief” and “The Best Man Holiday” over the past two years.

The two newbies were strong enough to propel the day to just a bit ahead of last year’s post-Memorial Day Friday, which featured the underwhelming opening of “After Earth” and the longterm sleeper hit “Now You See Me” (neither landed at number one). 

This Friday’s overall take reverses a two-week trend where even more touted, new films failed to compensate for some underlying weakness among other openers. But the recent problem of quick falloffs continues to plague theaters. Last week’s #1, “X-Men: Days of Future Past” (20th Century Fox) with $9.4 million dropped nearly 75% from its initial figure (the full weekend will end up with a somewhat better hold, but still substantial) to place second. However, with nearly $140 million domestically plus even bigger results worldwide this remains an overall success.

“Godzilla” (Warner Bros.) which opened at #1 two weeks ago at over $90 million, with $3.3 million fell just under 60% from last Friday for #4 and a $165 million total so far. “Neighbors” (Universal) held somewhat better with $2.4 million at #5. The Adam Sandler/Drew Barrymore comedy “Blended” (Warner Bros.) also managed to fall less than 50%, though from a weak opening figure and only $2,375,000 at #6.

At #7 and 8 respectively are two films each with just over $1 million, “Million Dollar Arm” (Buena Vista) and “The Amazing Spider-Man 2” (Sony). The last two positions were taken by the still somewhat limited “Chef” (Open Road) at $500,000 and “The Other Woman” (20th Century Fox) with $435,000.

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