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411 Box Office Report: Maleficent: Mistress of Evil Disappoints at #1, Zombieland Starts Well

October 20, 2019 | Posted by Jeremy Thomas
Maleficent Zombieland

It was a rare rough weekend for Disney at the box office, as Maleficent: Mistress of Evil managed to claim the top spot but with a low start. The sequel to 2014’s Maleficent topped the box office with $36 million, well below the mid-$40 million range that most forecasted it for. It’s a start well below the first Maleficent’s $69.4 million opening and reps the lowest opening weekend for a Disney live-action reimagining since Pete’s Dragon brought in just $21.5 million in August of 2016. It’s also the lowest wide-release start for an Angelina Jolie film since 2010, when The Tourist bombed with a $16.5 million first-weekend take.

The low opening is a rare chink in what has been a banner year for Disney. The studio has only had one other major stumble in Dumbo, which opened to $46 million in March and went on to lose money with $114.8 million domestically and $353.3 million worldwide against a $170 million production budget. Mistress of Evil may have better results than that film, but only due to its likely higher international numbers. Either way, it’s not a good result for an expensive film that followed up on Maleficent’s massive success.

Some of this can possibly be blamed on the lukewarm critic reviews, which added up to a 40% Rotten Tomatoes consensus. But the first film wasn’t particularly loved either at a 53% RT score, so that’s not what kept all the audiences away. The more accurate answer is that this was a sequel to a film that didn’t need it. Audiences loved Maleficent, and indeed those who saw Mistress of Evil did too as it matched the first film’s A CinemaScore. But this was a clear example of a sequel made only because the first was profitable, and potential moviegoers weren’t lured in.

Not everything is bad news for the film. The international start is solid at $117 million for a $153 million worldwide start, and that’s not the worst. However, the budget was a prohibitive $185 million and it will have to fight to get to the $400 million-plus worldwide that will be needed to keep Disney from losing money. That will probably happen, but it’s safe to say that this is the end of the franchise. The domestic take should end up at around $110 million.

Meanwhile, Joker continues its stellar run as the Joaquin Phoenix starter brought in $29.2 million, down just 48% from last weekend. The controversial DC Comics-inspired thriller brought its totals to $247.2 million domestically and a stunning $737.5 million worldwide thus far, amazing numbers against a budget of just $55 million. Audiences aren’t shying away from this film and the good holds indicate that $300 million domestically is not out of the question. Worldwide it seems destined for around $900 milliion and even with an expensive marketing budget, this is a massive hit for DC.

While it opened in third place, Zombieland: Double Tap is off to a good start with $26.7 million. That’s on the upper end of expectations for the sequel and slightly better than the $24.7 million start for the first film, all the way back in 2009. It gives the zombie genre its first bonafide hit since World War Z started with $66.4 million back in the summer of 2013.

Double Tap came into the weekend with one of the same big concerns as Maleficent: Mistress of Evil — namely, that it was a sequel to a film that didn’t necessarily need it. To make matters worse, it’s been ten years since the last film. But fan demand for a sequel has always been strong, to the point that an Amazon TV series was even tried out (with a different cast) but never got ordered to series. Once the original ensemble cast reunited, buzz began to build and the result is a very solid start for the film.

One other thing that Zombieland: Double Tap had that Mistress of Evil didn’t: positive reviews. The sequel had an acceptable 68% RT consensus, not stellar and well below the first film’s 90% but good enough to keep audiences from shying away. And the word of mouth will be good, with a B+ CinemaScore that is only slightly worse than the first film’s A-. The film added $5.3 million in 17 offshore markets for a $32 million start. It should be able to at least hit the first film’s $75 million domestically and will be profitable on a $42 million budget plus marketing once overseas numbers rack up more.

The Addams Family performed okay, down 47% in its second weekend to $16.1 million. The animated family film got bit by Maleficent for the family crowds, but is still looking like it’s in good shape. The movie now has $56.8 million domestically so far, and will be a hit against its $40 million budget as foreign numbers start to come in. The domestic total should end at around $90 million.

Gemini Man, on the other hand, dropped like a cloned rock. The Will Smith-starring sci-fi film was down an ugly 59% to $8.5 million in its second weekend. For a Marvel film that opens upwards of $100 million (or well over that), a 60% range drop is acceptable. For a film that started at only $20.6 million against a $150 million budget plus P&A, that’s the final nail in the coffin. Gemini Man now has $35.5 million domestically and while overseas numbers look stronger with a worldwide total of $118.7 million, there’s no way that this is anything but a big money loser for Paramount. The domestic total will probably be around $60 million, and that’s brutal.

Abominable was down 42% in its fourth week with $3.5 million. The animated film now has $53.9 million domestically and $128.7 million worldwide. Its breakeven window is getting a little slimmer against a $75 million budget. The domestic final should end up at around $62 million.

Downton Abbey nudged down just 37% in its fifth weekend, bringing in $3.1 million. The Focus Features film now has $88.6 million domestically and $164.1 million worldwide, making it a blockbuster-level hit considering the $20 million budget. Domestically it is still likely to cross $95 million.

Judy had a good fourth weekend in limited release with $2.1 million from 1,418 theaters, down 36%. The Judy Garland now has $19 million domestically thus far and $25 million worldwide against an as-yet-unknown budget. It’s looking likely profitable and as award season kicks in, it could make it up to $25 million to $30 million domestically.

Hustlers was down 47% in its sixth weekend, scoring $2.1 million. The stripper drama now has $101.9 million domestically and $125.5 million worldwide against a $20 million budget. It’s still looking like it will top $110 million domestically by the end of its run.

It Chapter Two spent what is almost certainly its last weekend in the top ten, down 52% in its seventh weekend with $1.5 million. The franchise ender now has $209.7 million domestically and $449.1 million worldwide against a $79 million budget. It’s likely to end its US run at around $215 million, which New Line will be happy with.

Next weekend will be quiet, and should let Maleficent retain the top spot. The new releases are action-thriller Black and Blue and app-based horror film Countdown, both of which should be in the high single digits.

BOX OFFICE TOP TEN (Three-Day Domestic Numbers)
1. Maleficent: Mistress of Evil – $36 million ($36 million total)
2. Joker – $29.2 million ($247.2 million total)
3. Zombieland: Double Tap – $26.7 million ($26.7 million total)
4. The Addams Family – $16.1 million ($56.8 million total)
5. Gemini Man – $8.5 million ($36.5 million total)
6. Abominable – $3.5 million ($53.9 million total)
7. Downton Abbey – $3.1 million ($88.6 million total)
8. Judy – $2.1 million ($19 million total)
9. Hustlers – $2.1 million ($101.9 million total)
10. It: Chapter 2 – $1.5 million ($209.7 million total)