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This past weekend at the box office is the reason words like "lackluster" exist. It was a weekend, and people went to the movies, but that's just about where the conversation ends. Technically speaking, Maleficent: Mistress of Evil won the weekend, but only because some movie had to do it. The film brought in only about $36 million which, while that was more or less what it was expected to do, is still a far cry from where the franchise was with its first installment.
Prior to Maleficent: Mistress of Evil hitting theaters projections had the movie hitting anywhere between $30 and $50 million for its domestic opening weekend. Certainly, hopes were for the movie to hit more on the high side of that range, but unfortunately, it landed squarely in the bottom half. It was enough to dethrone Joker as the number one movie in North America, but only just, as that film still brought in $29 million in its third weekend.
The original Maleficent was able to score $69 million in its bow back in 2014, so the sequel is coming in at just better than half the first installment. That's a pretty significant drop. Some of that can be chalked up to the first movie hitting in the more box office friendly May rather than October, but as Joker has showed, if people want to show up in droves to see your film in October, they will.
Internationally, Maleficent: Mistress of Evil is doing a bit better, combined the movie as brought in $118 million overseas, for a global total of $154 million and change, which isn't a bad place to start, but it will be up to the international audience to save this one, as things likely won't be improving for Mistress of Evil at home. The original movie made $240 million domestically and that's basically impossible for the sequel now.
On the plus side, whatever Maleficent: Mistress of Evil does at the box office is just gravy for Disney anyway. The studio has five movies that have crossed the billion dollar mark at the worldwide box office and there are likely to be two more, in Frozen II and Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, before the year is out.
Of course, the question now is what exactly does the lackluster performance from Mistress of Evil mean. Is Maleficent as a franchise just something that people no longer care about? Are people less interested in sequels to Disney's live-action remakes? If that's the case what does it mean for the proposed Jungle Book 2 and the under discussion sequel to Aladdin?
Or, was there just a problem with this movie specifically that didn't grab audiences enough? Reviews for Maleficent Mistress of Evil weren't great, but they certainly weren't the worst we've seen either. Many movies have survived worse reviews to make box office bank.
Of course, what's even crazier is that Maleficent: Mistress of Evil has a shot at winning the box office two weekends in a row. There are three films hitting in wide release on Friday, but none of them are of the massive tentpole variety. Next weekend's box office may not be huge, but it has the potential to be quite interesting.