It looks like it’s a good thing that Angelina Jolie has joined a new Disney franchise– ‘Eternals’ hailing from subsidiary Marvel Studios next year– because it looks as though her current series is about to flame out. Early tracking indicates that ‘Maleficent: Mistress of Evil’ is expected to flop.
Jolie’s first ‘Maleficent’ was released in 2014, and was a huge hit, earning $69 million on its opening weekend, on its way to generating $758 million at the global box office. (It was the highest-grossing non-sequel/franchise movie of the year. Just for comparison, it bested ‘Captain America: The Winter Soldier’.) ‘Mistress of Evil’ on the other hand, is tracking to open at an estimated $37M, although it could fall anywhere in the $30-$50M range, according to Box Office Pro. Even at its highest estimation, that’s lower than $69M. ‘Mistress of Evil’ is only being projected to take in $110M at the domestic box office, versus the $241M that the first grossed.
Perhaps the biggest factor working against it is the fact that it took five years to get a sequel into theaters. Similar long lags have killed other follow-ups like ‘Alice Through the Looking Glass’ (a six-year gap from the first), ‘The LEGO Movie 2’, and ‘The Secret Life of Pets 2’.
Competition could also take its toll on ‘Mistress of Evil’s performance. It opens on the same weekend as ‘Zombieland: Double Tap’ and the weekend after the animated reboot of ‘The Addams Family’. On top of that, ‘The Addams Family’ opens on Columbus Day weekend which will only help it, but won’t benefit ‘Mistress of Evil’ at all.
Though Box Office Pro doesn’t mention it, this could also be seen as one live-action Disney adaptation too many for a given year. Though ‘Mistress of Evil’ and the original ‘Maleficent’ aren’t direct adaptations, they are heavily based on the animated classic ‘Sleeping Beauty’. As such, it could be lumped in with ‘Dumbo’, ‘Aladdin’, and ‘The Lion King’. Both ‘Aladdin’ and ‘The Lion King’ hit the billion-dollar mark, but ‘Dumbo’ was basically ignored, and something similar could happen with ‘Mistress of Evil’, as fans may have had their fill. And like ‘Dumbo’, ‘Sleeping Beauty’ is a much older, and less well-known property these days. It doesn’t resonate with Millennial, Gen X and Y audiences the same way as ‘Aladdin’ and ‘The Lion King’. (Or ‘Beauty and the Beast’ and ‘The Little Mermaid’ for that matter.)
Working in ‘Mistress of Evil’s favor are the star power of Jolie, the fact that it is a female-centered action/fantasy/family movie, and strong online presence, including heavy views of the trailer.
Place your bets! Are you planning to check out ‘Maleficent: Mistress of Evil’ when it opens on October 18th?