The Angelina Jolie starrer “Maleficent” looks to be beneficent for Disney at the box office.
The live-action “Sleeping Beauty” reboot is on track to open to north of $60 million on May 30, according to early estimates. The $175 million-plus production needs to do strong business overseas to see a profit.
“Maleficent” comes on the heels of “Frozen’s” mega-success and thereby revived interest in Disney princess movies. It also follows several other Disney reimaginings: 2010’s “Alice in Wonderland” and last year’s “Oz The Great and Powerful.” Both of those movies were box office hits, although “Oz” underperformed overseas. “Maleficent” would need to match “Oz’s” $493 million worldwide cume to make an impact.
Meanwhile, “Alice in Wonderland” bowed to a record-breaking $116 million and went on to haul over $1 billion worldwide. But that vfx-heavy Disney fantasy pic was bolstered by the brand value of Tim Burton and Johnny Depp.
Although Jolie has star power, it hasn’t translated to box office gold for quite some time. She’ll be back in front of the camera after taking time off from acting to focus on directing. The last two films in which she starred, 2010’s “Salt” and “The Tourist” (co-starring Depp post-“Alice in Wonderland”), both disappointed financially.
Jolie’s startling transformation into the titular evil fairy who places the sleeping curse on princess Aurora (whose younger version is played by Jolie and Brad Pitt’s daughter Vivienne) has generated much buzz throughout the promotional campaign.
The bigscreen fairytale adaptation co-stars Elle Fanning (the older Aurora), Sharlto Copley and Juno Temple.
“Maleficent” director Robert Stromberg was partly responsible for “Alice” and “Oz’s” success as their production designer, but he’s new to the directing world. Stromberg will make his directorial debut after stepping in to replace Burton, who left the helm because of scheduling conflicts.
Unlike “Alice” and “Oz,” which launched in the less crowded month of March, “Maleficent” faces off against several summer blockbusters. It’s opening on the same day as Seth MacFarlane’s “A Million Ways to Die in the West.” MacFarlane’s R-rated pic would seem to appeal to a very different audience than the PG movie but could reach a wider-than-anticipated audience following the success of “Ted.”
Disney also faces heavy competition from Fox as “Maleficent” is bowing a week after “X-Men: Days of Future Past” and a week before Shailene Woodley’s “The Fault in Our Stars.” “Godzilla,” which had the year’s second largest opening, will likely still be making a killing then.
“Maleficent” seems to be more on par with Universal’s summer blockbuster “Snow White and the Huntsman,” which opened to $56 million on the same weekend in 2012 and earned $397 worldwide. Like “Maleficent,” the $170 million production told a classic fairy tale through from the female villain’s point of view.
The film has a day-and-date release in most major territories, but won’t bow in India, Japan or Mexico until early July. It will be released in the U.K. and Italy on May 28 — two days ahead of its U.S. launch.