By Daniel Garris
Disney's Maleficent was off to a strong start this weekend with a first place debut of $69.43 million. The 3D fantasy film starring Angelina Jolie opened on the very high end of its lofty pre-release expectations. A strong marketing campaign, the film arriving after the massive box office success of last year's Frozen and Jolie's awaited return to the big screen all helped out Maleficent this weekend. The film may have also received a bit of a boost this weekend from moviegoers wanting to catch the film before Fox's The Fault in Our Stars arrives in the marketplace next weekend. Without adjusting for ticket price inflation, Maleficent represented the largest opening weekend performance ever for Jolie (her previous best in a live action role was the $50.93 million start of 2008's Wanted). Maleficent opened 23.5 percent stronger than the $56.22 million start of 2012's Snow White and the Huntsman (which didn't have the advantage of higher priced 3D admissions).
Maleficent opened with $24.29 million on Friday, which included an estimated $4.2 million from Thursday evening shows. The film increased 6 percent on Saturday to gross $25.75 million and declined 25 percent on Sunday to take in $19.38 million. That gave Maleficent an opening weekend to Friday ratio of 2.86 to 1, which indicates that the film has a major family component to its audience, but also isn't playing entirely like a family film. According to Disney, family audiences represented 45 percent of the film's total audience, while couples represented 38 percent. The audience breakdown for Maleficent skewed towards female moviegoers (60 percent) and slightly towards moviegoers over the age of 25 (51 percent). Maleficent received a strong A rating on CinemaScore. That is a good early sign for the film going forward, though it will face tough direct competition in the weeks ahead from both The Fault in Our Stars and How to Train Your Dragon 2.
Maleficent grossed an estimated $6.7 million from IMAX locations, which represented 9.6 percent of this weekend's overall gross. 3D grosses from all formats were responsible for 35 percent of this weekend's overall gross.
X-Men: Days of Future Past was down one spot and a sharp 64 percent from last weekend's three-day frame to place in second with $32.55 million. Despite largely positive reactions from moviegoers and critics alike, Fox's 3D superhero sequel still fell off significantly this weekend due in part to the front-loaded nature of the X-Men franchise in general. The overall appeal of Maleficent also didn't help matters for Days of Future Past this weekend. With that said, X-Men: Days of Future Past is still performing towards the lower end of its massive expectations with a ten-day start of $162.02 million. That places the film 65 percent ahead of the $98.02 million ten-day take of 2011's X-Men: First Class (which fell 56 percent in its second weekend to gross $24.13 million) and 8 percent behind the $175.35 million ten-day gross of 2006's X-Men: The Last Stand (which fell 67 percent in its second weekend to gross $34.02 million). With this weekend's decline out of the way, Days of Future Past will hope to stabilize going forward.
Universal's A Million Ways to Die in the West debuted in third place with a soft start of $16.79 million. The western comedy directed by and starring Seth MacFarlane debuted significantly below pre-release expectations. Much like Blended last weekend, A Million Ways to Die in the West appears to have been hurt by audiences having been already satisfied recently by Neighbors and by largely negative critical reviews. While it was never expected to perform anywhere near as strong as 2012's Ted, the degree of the film's box office drop-off from Ted (which debuted with $54.42 million), obviously isn't good news for MacFarlane. As showcased by The Lone Ranger last year, westerns with comedic elements are currently a tough sell at the box office. Fortunately for A Million Ways to Die in the West, the film was produced for a fraction of a cost of The Lone Ranger.
A Million Ways to Die in the West opened with $6.16 million on Friday (which included an estimated $0.89 million from late night Thursday shows), increased 4 percent on Saturday to take in $6.41 million and declined 34 percent on Sunday to gross $4.23 million. That placed the film's opening weekend to Friday ratio at 2.73 to 1. The audience breakdown for A Million Ways to Die in the West skewed towards male moviegoers (55 percent) and heavily towards moviegoers 25 years and older (72 percent). The film received a so-so B rating on CinemaScore and is likely to be at least fairly front-loaded going forward due to the initial rush out of MacFarlane's fans.
Godzilla continued to fall off quickly this weekend as it was down two spots and 61 percent from last weekend to fall to fourth with $12.01 million. In addition to being hurt by mixed word of mouth, the 3D sci-fi action remake also took a hit from losing IMAX showings to Maleficent this weekend. After greatly exceeding expectations on opening weekend, due to poor holding power Godzilla is now running towards the lower end of expectations with a 17-day take of $174.44 million. Godzilla is currently running 8 percent behind the $190.20 million 17-day take of 2011's Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides and will need to start stabilizing soon if it is to reach the $200 million domestic milestone.
Thanks in part to the lackluster start of A Million Ways to Die in the West, fellow comedies Warner's Blended and Universal's Neighbors both held up better than expected this weekend with respective fifth and sixth place takes of $8.14 million and $8.08 million. The two films were separated by a slim $63,658 over the weekend. Blended was down 43 percent from last weekend (which represented a very respectable second weekend hold for a Memorial Day weekend release), while Neighbors fell 42 percent. Respective total grosses stand at a strong $128.97 million for Neighbors through 24 days and at a disappointing $29.35 million for Blended after ten days. Both films will hope to hold up well next weekend, before they face new direct competition from 22 Jump Street when it enters the marketplace on June 13.