Angelina Jolie’s “Maleficent: Mistress of Evil” is heading for an opening weekend of about $35 million at 3,790 North American locations — significantly below forecasts, early estimates showed on Friday.
The fantasy sequel should still win the domestic weekend box office handily, denying Joaquin Phoenix’s “Joker” a third consecutive victory. “Maleficent: Mistress of Evil” will also top the launch of another sequel, Sony’s “Zombieland: Double Tap,” which is coming in above expectations at about $28 million in a battle for second with “Joker.”
Disney’s “Maleficent: Mistress of Evil” had been forecast to launch around $45 million this weekend. The original “Maleficent” debuted with $69 million at the domestic box office in 2014 and went on to become a box office smash, earning more than $750 million globally from a $180 million budget.
The cast includes returnees Elle Fanning, Sam Riley, Imelda Staunton, Juno Temple and Lesley Manville, and newcomers Michelle Pfeiffer, Ed Skrein and Chiwetel Ejiofor. Joachim Ronning, who co-directed “Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales,” helmed “Maleficent 2.” The story centers on Maleficent and her goddaughter Aurora (played by Fanning) and the impact of Aurora’s upcoming marriage.
“Maleficent: Mistress of Evil” is also opening in all major international markets this weekend. Critics were generally unimpressed with a 40% Rotten Tomatoes.
“Zombieland: Double Tap” showed decent drawing power, making $2.9 million on Thursday night and easily besting “Maleficent: Mistress of Evil’s” $2.3 million. The raunchy “Zombieland: Double Tap” is opening at 3,450 domestic locations. It’s the first major studio comedy since “Good Boys” bowed in mid-August and wound up as 2019’s top-grossing live-action comedy with $82 million.
The original “Zombieland” debuted a decade ago with $24 million and totaled $76 million in North America. “Zombieland: Double Tap” had been expected to finish in the same range as the original. Lead cast members Woody Harrelson, Jesse Eisenberg, Abigail Breslin and Emma Stone return to a world where many new kinds of zombies have evolved since the first movie. They also face the growing pains of their own makeshift family, which spends much of the movie fending off relentless zombie attacks. Reviews have been mostly positive with a 66% score on Rotten Tomatoes.
“Venom” helmer Ruben Fleischer returned to direct from a script by original writers Rhett Reese, Paul Wernick and Dave Callaham. Rosario Dawson, Zoey Deutch, Luke Wilson and Thomas Middleditch joined the cast of the sequel, which had a production budget of $42 million.
“Joker” has become a major success story for Warner Bros., grossing $213 million in North America in less than two weeks. It should finish this weekend with about $245 million in its first 17 days in North America.
MGM-United Artists Releasing’s sophomore frame of “The Addams Family” is heading for fourth with around $14 million for a 10-day total in the $55 million range. It’s declining about 53% from its opening.
Paramount’s second session of Will Smith’s sci-fi thriller “Gemini Man” will continue to disappoint with a decline of more than 60% to around $8 million after opening with $20.6 million. The film carries a $138 million price tag.
The North American box office has been improving since mid-July, when it was down 9% compared with 2018. That gap has narrowed to 5.2% with $8.95 billion as of Oct. 16, according to Comscore.
STX announced Friday that its drama “Hustlers” crossed the $100 million mark at the North American box office as it enters its sixth weekend. The film was produced for approximately $20 million and has now grossed more than $125 million worldwide. The strip club story, starring Jennifer Lopez and Constance Wu, has been embraced by critics and carries an 88% rating in Rotten Tomatoes.