Disney’s ‘Maleficent: Mistress of Evil’ took in $36 million during its opening frame, which was enough to come in at #1 at the weekend box office, but is still considered a massive disappointment, with its $185M production budget, and the fact that this is about half what the original ‘Maleficent’ made during its opening weekend, $69.4M. The first movie went on to make $241M at the domestic box office, and $758M globally. It was the highest-grossing original movie of 2014, and made more than even ‘Captain America: The Winter Soldier’.
This definitely looks like a case where too much time has passed between the first movie and the sequel– five whole years. ‘Maleficent’ was among the first live-action Disney movies based on one of their animated classics, arriving a year before ‘Cinderella’. Something very similar happened with the release of ‘Alice Through the Looking Glass’ in 2016, when the first movie, ‘Alice in Wonderland’ came out way back in 2010. ‘Through the Looking Glass’ made $35M its opening weekend on a budget of $170M, which is pretty close to ‘Mistress of Evil’s performance and budget. And that was considered a devastating flop.
Deadline reports that the breakeven point for ‘Mistress of Evil’ is $400M worldwide, and right now it’s at $153M. It isn’t doing well in China– $22.4M– so it’s going to struggle to get into the black.
Very much like ‘Gemini Man’ last weekend, ‘Mistress of Evil’ even had the benefit of monopolizing almost all of the large-format and deluxe screens, but just because a movie is screening on a deluxe screen doesn’t mean that people are buying tickets to see it. However, audiences that did turn out for this sequel really enjoyed it, bestowing it with glowing exit scores– A CinemaScore, and 4½ stars out of 5 on PostTrak.
In addition to the fact that too much time has passed since the release of 2014’s ‘Maleficent’, ‘Mistress of Evil’ looks to have been sunk by poor reviews– 41% on Rotten Tomatoes– and bad marketing– trailers and posters did nothing to emphasize how this movie was different from the first. In fact, based on reviews, rather than making ‘Mistress of Evil’ bigger and better than ‘Maleficent’, it sounds as though most critics feel it didn’t measure up.
Overseas, ‘Mistress of Evil’ earned $117M which is just slightly higher than what the first movie made during its global opening weekend.
Of course, as many would say, this is Disney. They can afford a few flops with all their mega successes, and they have had unbelievable success this year with ‘Avengers: Endgame’ (the highest-grossing movie of all time), ‘Captain Marvel’, ‘Aladdin’, and ‘The Lion King’. But when the studio flops, they do so in a very big way. And no studio, not even Disney, wants to lose money, but that is likely what’s going to happen here.
‘Mistress of Evil’s lackluster opening was still enough to take #1, but Warner Brothers’ ‘Joker’ continues to persevere, adding another $29.2M to its domestic tally, which is now $247.2M, and most believe that it will hit $300M domestic before its run is over. Outside the US, it has made almost $500M. Combined, that puts it at $738M. Despite ‘Joker’ not being a straight-up comic book movie in the traditional sense, it’s performing like one. It’s the #2 DC movie in Japan, and the #4 DC movie overseas, and that’s without the help of China. Due to its subject matter and content, it doesn’t look like ‘Joker’ is opening there at all.
‘Joker’ bested Sony’s new release ‘Zombieland: Double Tap’, which opened in #3 with $26.7M. ‘Double Tap’ has a modest budget of $48M, and it is expected to top out with around $75M by the end of its domestic theatrical run– comparable to what the first ‘Zombieland’ made. Everything’s relative. ‘Maleficent: Mistress of Evil’s $36M opening is a disaster. But for ‘Double Tap’, an opening of $26.7M is perfectly fine, because of its small budget, the fact that it’s rated-R, and it’s a sequel to a movie that was a cult favorite, but not a resounding smash. In fact, the fact that it’s a comedy makes the opening even more impressive as comedies haven’t been doing well in theaters.
Among exiting audiences, ‘Double Tap’ received a B- CinemaScore (the first ‘Zombieland’ got an A-), and 4 stars on PostTrak. It has a fresh 68% ranking on Rotten Tomatoes (equal to ‘Joker’, the first ‘Zombieland’ has an outstanding 90%).
At #4, ‘The Addams Family’ isn’t a roaring success, but it’s doing well enough that MGM has already greenlit a sequel. But beneath that, ‘Gemini Man’ is in freefall. Not only did it have a poor opening, but negative reaction has scared off anyone who might have been holding off on seeing it.
- Maleficent: Mistress of Evil (Disney) – $36M
- Joker (Warner Brothers/Village Roadshow/Bron Films) – $29.2M
- Zombieland: Double Tap (Sony) – $26.7M
- The Addams Family (MGM/UAR) – $16M
- Gemini Man (Paramount/Skydance Media) – $8.5M
I’m not sure why, but nothing noteworthy is opening next weekend. It can’t be Halloween, which doesn’t arrive until the following Friday. The only offering that I think may make any kind of impact is the cop drama ‘Black and Blue’.
‘Terminator: Dark Fate’ opens on the following weekend, and sometimes the studios intentionally steer clear of other potential blockbusters, but that one doesn’t look as though it’s going to be so massive that others won’t be able to compete. At this point, it’s looking to open in the $40M range. In other words, it doesn’t seem that the other studios are intentionally not opening a big movie because they’re worried that ‘Terminator’ may crush it in its second weekend. It’s just a dead weekend. They happen every so often.
Check back to see how things go, but don’t expect any massive shakeups.