‘Maleficent’ Conjures $4.2 Million at Thursday Night Box Office

Maleficent” conjured up a solid $4.2 million at the box office on Thursday evening, as the Angelina Jolie fantasy epic looks to cast a spell over U.S. moviegoers this weekend.

The fantasy adventure screened in over 3,000 theaters, topping the $3.9 million that “Alice in Wonderland” scored in its preview screenings, as well as the $2 million that “Oz The Great and Powerful” hit in late night shows.

The picture now expands to 3,948 theaters on Friday, the majority of them offering 3D screenings. It is expected to top $60 million for the weekend, which would make it the biggest domestic debut of Jolie’s career.

Filling a different niche, raunchy comedy “A Million Ways to Die in the West” bowed to $891,000 in its late night screenings. Universal Pictures co-financed the $40 million film with Media Rights Capital after having great success with star Seth MacFarlane’s “Ted.” Yet this picture is looking like a shadow of that $549 million smash.

A debut of $25 million seems likely, which Universal says it will be happy with given the relatively low cost of the film. The studio compared the western farce’s late-night numbers with the $700,000 that “21 Jump Street” made in its preview showings en route to a $36.3 million opening.

On the “Maleficent” front, Walt Disney Studios is planning to roll out the film from one end of the globe to the other. It will debut “Maleficent” in 13,011 theaters across 47 territories, representing more than 75% of the total international footprint. The only major markets where it won’t open will be China, where it debuts on June 20, and Japan, where it hits on July 4.

Internationally, “Maleficent” has already scored $20.1 million heading into the weekend from such key markets as Russia, France, Germany and the United Kingdom.

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