Friday, May 30, 2014

‘Maleficent’ to weave a spell over weekend B.O.

Disney’s reimagining of the “Sleeping Beauty” fairytale, propelled by seemingly endless public fascination with lead Angelina Jolie, bows nationwide and in most international markets today. Pre-sales for Maleficent are currently stronger than were those for the similarly dark-themed Snow White and the Huntsman at this same point in 2012 – Huntsman would gross $56.2 million its opening weekend. Maleficent is also, of course, a product of The Mouse House, which is likely hoping for a success on par with its previous CGI fairytale offerings Alice in Wonderland and Oz the Great and Powerful (the latter opened to $79.1 million last year). While both interest in and critical praise of Jolie herself is strong, the film has received some pretty lackluster reviews. It dropped almost 20 percentage points on Rotten Tomatoes in less than a day, from 63 percent fresh yesterday afternoon to 46 percent rotten this morning. Still, it’s unclear to what extent reviews for a film like this, which has a dedicated fan base behind its lead actress, as well as behind the original story and/or 1959 Disney cartoon, hold sway. All told, Maleficent should earn the No. 1 spot at the box office this weekend, with an opening haul in the mid-to-high $50 millions.

Seth MacFarlane’s A Million Ways to Die in the West is the other major release opening today, but it’s unlikely the comedy will slip into the No. 2 spot behind Maleficent. Instead, last week’s successful X-Men: Days of Future Past is expected to hold well enough to earn the second-place title. Dropoffs for films that opened as strongly as did X-Men tend to be fairly steep their second weekends in theatres, so expect a dip around 60 percent. That should still be enough to beat out West, which has earned roundly terrible reviews (34 percent rotten). Though MacFarlane can boast a dedicated fan base of his own, proponents of “Family Guy” and Ted might be less than enthused at the prospect of watching their funnyman as a kind-of romantic lead, no matter how “kind-of” a romance it is.  Many pundits are speculating MacFarlane’s poorly reviewed performance as host of 2013’s Oscars lost him some audience goodwill as well (although most MacFarlane fans remained so after the telecast. He didn’t so much lose fans as fail to win himself some more.). The director-writer-actor’s Ted was a success when it opened to $54 million in 2012; West, on the other hand, is looking at a low $20-millions bow.

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