Maleficent

Angelina Jolie’s got the box office magic with “Maleficent,” with early Friday forecasts pointing to a U.S. opening weekend that could wind up above $70 million.

Disney’s assiduously marketed fantasy epic is on track to take in about $23 million to $26 million on Friday, including a solid $4.2 million from Thursday evening showings. Friday’s weekend projections for “Maleficent” ranged from the low $60 millions to the low $70 millions.

Friday business appeared to be significantly more robust than trackers had expected, which had led to recent forecasts in the $60 million range. The live-action retelling of the Sleeping Beauty story will become the highest opening weekend for Jolie, easily topping the $50.9 million launch frame for 2008’s “Wanted.”

Disney’s marketing push for “Maleficent,” which carries a $180 million pricetag, stresses her portrayal of a supernatural villain — albeit one with a human side. The studio saw a similarly strong performance last year with another fantasy-actioner, “Oz the Great and Powerful,” which opened with $79.1 million domestically on its way to a solid $234.9 million at the domestic box office.

Matinee business for “Maleficent” was in line with the performance of “Oz,” which debuted in March 2013, when far fewer children were out of school. Reviews for “Maleficent” have been mixed, with a 49% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

Friday’s forecasts were less sunny for Seth McFarlane in his first live-action starring role in “A Million Ways to Die in the West.” Universal’s R-rated Western comedy was heading for about $7 million to $9 million on Friday, leading to a weekend in the $20 million to $22 million range.

That’s less than half of the $49 million opening for “Neighbors,” another Universal comedy aimed at adults.  “Neighbors” has grossed an impressive $120 million in its first three weeks.

McFarlane stunned Hollywood in 2012 with “Ted,” which opened domestically with $54.4 million on its way to a $218.8 million domestic cume and took in another $331 million overseas.

Reviewers have not been kind to “A Million Ways,” with a 34% rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

Fox’s “X-Men: Days of Future Past” showed plenty of punch at the start of its second weekend with Friday’s number in the $10 million to $12 million range on its eighth day in U.S. theaters after grossing $129 million in its first week.

The mutant sequel, which earned an A CinemaScore rating, looks likely to finish the weekend with $35 million-$38 million — representing a decline of about 55% to 60% from the three-day launch of $91 million.

That decline is at the low end of “X-Men” films in the series, which have dropped from 53% to nearly 70% in their second weekends.

The third weekend of “Godzilla” will finish fourth with about $13 million after devouring $162 million in its first two weeks.

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