AceShowbiz - Angelina Jolie's horned-witch character casts a weaker spell upon its return to the big screen. The sequel of Disney's 2014 "Maleficent", "Maleficent: Mistress of Evil", has a soft opening at North American box office with approximately $36 million from 3,790 theaters.
That's more than 45 percent behind the $69.4 million launch of the predecessor, which was directed by Robert Stromberg. The Joachim Ronning-helmed sequel was initially projected to open with around $40 million domestically.
The number, however, is enough to edge out "Joker" from the top spot, making the fantasy movie a new champion at the weekly chart. Internationally, "Maleficent 2" bowed to $117 million from 56 material markets for a current worldwide total of $153 million. It's the third-biggest global start ever for the month of October.
Disney remains confident of the movie's long run as the studio's distribution chief Cathleen Taff says in a statement, "Overall, we are seeing a solid start for the film around the world, although it's not as strong as we hoped for domestically. But we have a nice run up to Halloween and the audience reaction has been very positive."
"Maleficent: Mistress of Evil" got not-so-favorable reviews from critics, holding an approval rating of 41% on review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes. However, audiences didn't seem to be affected by the reviews, as they gave the film an average grade of "A" on an A+ to F scale on CinemaScore. That's the same score given by moviegoers polled for the first film, which holds an approval rating of 53%.
"Joker", meanwhile, remains solid with an estimated $29.2 million, or dropping 47.7% from last week, to finish at the runner-up place. It has so far grossed $247.2 million domestically and $490.3 million internationally for a current global total of $737.5 million.
"It's already in territory that nobody thought it would get to. It's achieved a box office that is above the wildest expectations of the studio and analysts," Paul Dergarabedian, Comscore's senior media analyst, says of the R-rated film. "Even if the box office stopped right now, it's an absolute, unqualified success."
Another newcomer which had a wide release this week, "Zombieland: Double Tap" debuts at No. 3 with approximately $26.7 million, slightly higher than its 2009 predecessor which made $24.7 million on its first weekend.
"The Addams Family" animated remake falls two places to No. 4 on its second weekend, adding approximately $16 million to its domestic haul. Meanwhile, Ang Lee's pricey movie "Gemini Man" starring Will Smith continues to falter on its second weekend after its lackluster debut, bringing in just $8.5 million to place fifth.
Meanwhile, Taika Waititi's satirical black comedy "Jojo Rabbit" has a solid start upon its limited release. It raked in an estimated $350,000 in just 5 locations domestically, or a $70,000 per theater average.
Top Ten Movies at Weekend Box Office for Oct. 18-20: