‘Maleficent’ Shows Strength of Female Audiences at Box Office


Maleficent” rode “Frozen’s” coattails to a decisive victory at last weekend’s box office, analysts say.

More than any other Hollywood player, Walt Disney Studios has adroitly tapped into the strength of the female moviegoing audience, keeping this potent demographic in mind while cooking up everything from princess lines to “Let it Go”-style empowerment anthems.

“Right now Disney is pushing all the right buttons with regards to young girls,” said Eric Handler,  a media and entertainment analyst at MKM Partners. “The ‘princess brand’ is a very, very strong brand.”

Analysts argue that “Frozen” gave a shot of adrenaline to a type of entertainment that had grown listless since the glory days of “Beauty & the Beast” and “The Little Mermaid” by expertly mixing post-feminist depictions of women with royal fantasies. In the case of “Maleficent,” the reimagining of “Sleeping Beauty” managed to attract a crowd that was 60% female, providing welcome relief to the glut of male-skewing films in the marketplace. For its part, “Frozen” skewed 57% female.

Just look at the demographic breakdown of the debuts of such recent blockbusters as “The Amazing Spider Man 2” (61% male), “Godzilla” (58% male) and “X-Men: Days of Future Past” (56% male) and it’s evident that women were giving the cold shoulder to this year’s crop of popcorn films. The rare exception was “Neighbors,” which used the power of Zac Efron’s washboard abs to attract an opening weekend crowd that was 53% female. Never bet against male objectification.

“‘Maleficent’ was aimed directly at women, and the market was ripe for a female-skewing hit,” Phil Contrino, VP and chief analyst, at BoxOffice.com, said.

Contrino notes that the last film that was aggressively geared at this particular crowd was the aptly titled “The Other Woman,” which attracted a debut audience that was 75% female when it opened in April.

Things get better next weekend when “The Fault in Our Stars,” a romantic drama about a terminal cancer patient who finds love, debuts, causing a spike in female crowds and tissue sales. Disney has argued that a lack of family-friendly options bodes well for “Maleficent’s” performance over the next two weeks. That may be true, but it will compete with that mid-budget weepie for female ticket-buyers.

As for Disney, the studio has another fantasy adventure aimed at young girls with next March’s “Cinderella,” signalling there’s no end in sight for stories about plucky heroines who may or may not need their prince.

Welcome to the post-“Frozen” era.

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  1. Reblogged this on Communications & Legal Studies and commented:
    Lang writes that Disney, “has adroitly tapped into the strength of the female moviegoing audience…”

  2. Brittany says:

    This article is disgusting and offensive and degrading and overtly sexist. Movies with a female lead are not flukes. They should not be looked at as a phase. Maleficent is a movie entirely independent of Frozen. There is no correlation aside from Disney. One is animated, the other is not. One is an original story, the other is a retelling. They are blatantly different, as is every other filmed directed at women. Frozen should not take any credit for the success of films with female leads. How can you take away from all the work put into those films? Have you ever thought that people actually want more films with female leads? That they could possibly prefer that? That the line between films directed at men and women is not so prevalent – that it’s so skewed that it’s nearly non-existent? I watch movies for the content. I have seen Frozen. I have seen X-Men: Days of Future Past. I have seen Maleficent. I have seen The Amazing Spiderman 2. There is nothing that indicates whether the aforementioned films are meant for me as a female to see or not. Let the movies speak for themselves, and don’t disregard their success. They’ve earned it.

  3. cltaylor12 says:

    I think the author meant to say that the Huntsman was poorly cast, and Disney is hoping that Cinderella in March 2015 can ride the coat-tails of Maleficent. LOL Any other Marvel Phase II fans annoyed that Disney slid the Guardians of the Galaxy trailer into the “Previews” for Maleficent screenings? I thought that was a bit odd (and I’ve been followed all of Phase 1).

    • therealeverton says:

      What Huntsman? There’s no mention of a Huntsman at all.

      What do you mean about the GOtG trailer?

  4. cltaylor12 says:

    Men and boys need to see that in King Stefan and the male characters in the film, and they need to compare and contrast Stefan’s path to Maleficent’s path. Good and Bad are about choice – the Star War’s films taught it, and so does this one (Fear leads to anger, anger leads to hate, hate leads to suffering,…. I see much fear in you). Same message is hidden in this film. While Stefan shows some compassion, he still let’s his desire outweigh what is “right”. Men and boys need that view in the context of relationships with Women and girls.

    “Frozen” is an over-hyped waste of time. “Maleficent” is a well told well thought out well written well acted and is beautifully cinematic. Men and boys need to see this film – there are messages for them regarding honesty, trust, betrayal, desire, greed, compassion, tolerance, and how when heading down a dark path you DO have a choice to bring yourself back.

    I will never watch Frozen. I’ve seen Maleficent 3 times and plan to go back as often as I can afford before it departs the big screen – because the story and how the tale is told is beyond brilliant, it does not sit under the umbrella of Disney but rises above into all films out now and release in the last several decades.

    • therealeverton says:

      Also I don’t get your idea about the NEEd for males to see the film, but don’t believe this poorly researched, badly written article. Millions of males saw this films and will continue to do so. The percentage splits are mathematically indicative of nothing other than a tilt to females over males. If this had 10 million tickets sold over the weekend, then 4 million of those tickets went to men; hardly a male boycott is it? If you were in a room with 99 other people and the split was 60/40 females to males, you may not even notice for some time that there’s a difference.

    • therealeverton says:

      If you will never see Frozen ho can you know it is a waste of time?

      Also it isn’t Hyped, let alone Over hyped. It is massively successful, that isn’t hyperbole it is just a fact. The people made the film a massive success, good or bad, right or wrong.

  5. Amateur says:

    Stop trying to pigeonhole Frozen as some feminist movie. It is a lot deeper than just feminist. It is a family film that speaks on multiple levels.

  6. therealeverton says:

    “Analysts argue that “Frozen” gave a shot of adrenaline to a type of entertainment that had grown listless since the glory days of “Beauty & the Beast” and “The Little Mermaid” ”


    Tangled? Snow White & The Huntsman? Alice in Wonderland

  7. Jennifer says:

    “Maleficent” rode “Frozen’s” coattails to a decisive victory at last weekend’s box office, analysts say.”

    Really? And what analysts were those? Men who are shocked every single time that a female dominated movie succeeds?

    This article is horrible, shoddy and blatantly sexist.

  8. This is a really horrible article, and I’m disappointed to see that the editors allowed it to be published as it’s written. Particularly, the assumption that a film’s audience must be more than 50% female or that film is being “given the cold-shoulder” by the female audience. Citing that the new X-Men film’s audience at 44% female as being indicative of something greater is just shoddy journalism. Did the author bother to see if that is a greater figure than earlier films in the franchise? (It is.) And if it’s a greater figure (it is), wouldn’t that mean that more female moviegoers are being drawn to that kind of film? According to your logic, it makes sense… but it seems it was left out so the author could make a poor attempt at framing this as some grand battle-of-the-sexes.

    Seriously, poor form, Variety. You can do better.

  9. therealeverton says:

    The use, or rather misuse, of statistics here is laughable!! 61%, 58% & 56% shows that females have “…given the cold shoulder” to other films! Really! Let’s just say that 10 million Americans bought tickets for each of those films and out of those 10 million each 3.9 million, 4.2 million and 4.4 million females purchased tickets and somehow that is not appealing to women? That is them NOT going to see these films?

    Dear oh dear…

  10. Chelsea says:

    Team Maleficent.!!!!!!

  11. Shaun says:

    I find articles like this annoying. I am a 48 year old male who, like many of my generation, grew up with “Star Trek” and “Star Wars” and comic books. I like good fantasy movies and good science fiction. I will go to see anything that fits that bill. I also like good stories. So, I love “Frozen” – I’ve seen it several times and own it on DVD. I also love Godzilla – I was disappointed in the movie, but I still saw it twice. I saw “X-Men: Days of Future Past” and “Maleficent” on the weekend. I enjoyed X-Men more because it was better executed, but I fully appreciate the brilliance of Angelina Jolie’s performance in Maleficent and I was fully willing to enjoy that film as much as Frozen, if I could. In other words, this effort to put people into boxes is annoying. If you give me a good story, as a fantasy/sci-fi fan, I will see the film and enjoy it.

    • cltaylor12 says:

      Will you marry me and what do you mean you were disappointed by Godzilla? The U.S. finally got a Godzilla film correct (kept to the Toho guidelines). I saw it three times. I saw X-Men once. I’ve seen Maleficent 3 times and want to go back. Let’s go together Shaun!!! ;) (also 48, female)

    • Perplexed says:

      You were disappointed w/ GODZILLA…and yet you saw it twice??

      • therealeverton says:

        He said he was disappointed, not that he thought it was poor. If you didn’t see Avatar until a few weeks after it was out, you would have heard non-stop that it was one of the greatest entertainments ever. Now going to see it, with that pressure of expectation, you may have thought hey it’s really good, maybe even 9, 9.5 out of 10, but not the best film ever. So even though you may have loved it, you can still have been “disappointed”.

        Or you’re right and he didn’t like it but saw it twice anyway for another reason. (like taking his kids once he knew it wasn’t too scary for them…

    • therealeverton says:

      Yes, this is getting annoying and it is laughable maths.

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