The menacing Maleficent gripped the North American box office this week, as holdovers mostly fell asleep after a big Memorial Day weekend. The Disney CGI extravaganza, which also had Angelina Jolie’s first live-action role in three-and-a-half years, debuted at a big #1 with $70 million. That is the biggest opening of Jolie’s career, live-action or otherwise. Her previous high was the $60.2 million start of 2008’s Kung Fu Panda, and for non-animated films, the $50.9 opening take of Wanted – which opened three weeks after Panda.
As for similar films, Maleficent opened nearly 25 percent stronger than Snow White and the Huntsman ($56.2 million), another dark fairy tale with an A-list cast that opened at the beginning of June two years ago. It did not reach the heights of fellow Disney fantasy behemoth Oz the Great and Powerful ($79.1 million) though, but that film opened to an empty marketplace at the beginning of March. Maleficent, meanwhile, opened in the wake of many big-budget action films. Regardless, the $70 million take was on the high range of the film’s box office expectations.
Disney says that families represented 45 percent of its audience this weekend. Unsurprisingly, viewership skewed female (60 percent of the audiences), which means the film could have a big drop next weekend when The Fault in Our Stars comes out. An A CinemaScore bodes well for word-of-mouth, but with Stars and then How to Train Your Dragon 2 the following week, Maleficent may not have the holds needed to reach $200 million, domestically. Maleficent also grossed $6.7 million from IMAX theatres, while only 35 percent of the gross this weekend came from 3D formats.
Far back in second place were Professor X, Magneto and company. X-Men: Days of Future Past plummeted 64 percent to take in $32.6 million. With a $162.1 million total so far, the comic-book adaptation has already surpassed the final tally of X-Men: First Class. However, such a large second-weekend drop – normal for the franchise – indicates that it will not be the highest-grossing entry in the series (that belongs to The Last Stand, with $234.4 million). A new goal for Days of Future Past is to reach $215 million, which would top X2‘s final by a hair. Regardless, that film came out 11 years ago, when ticket prices were lower.
X-Men: Days of Future Past is yet another big-budget film this summer to have a strong opening and then fall hard in its second weekend. Although the film did show signs of front-loading last weekend, audiences did seem to enjoy Days of Future Past more than Godzilla and The Amazing Spider-Man 2, which also dropped more than 60 percent their sophomore weekend. So far, no #1 opener this summer looks like it will have a final cume that is more than three times its opening weekend, a sign that these blockbusters are thriving more on pre-release buzz than strong word-of-mouth.