ANGELINA JOLIE’s CGI cheekbones cut clean through the competition at the box office.
With Jolie returning to the screen for the first time in four years — as the reimagined “Sleeping Beauty” villain in Disney’s latest visual dazzler — “Maleficent” grossed $70-million in its domestic debut to win the weekend, according to studio estimates Sunday; final numbers are due Monday.
It’s the best opening of the year by a film featuring a woman in the lead or title role.
“Maleficent” is elevated by Jolie’s commanding performance, and deepened by the meta-narrative of the actress’s own life as a mother and double mastectomy patient. (There are moments for adult filmgoers that ring as clear metaphor of Jolie’s recent medical journey, including her reconstructive surgery.)
“Malificent’s” audience was 60-percent female, and 51-percent older than 25, according to BoxOfficeMojo.com.
“As a star, she’s a draw that transcends culture and borders and language,” Disney Studios theatrical-distribution executive Dave Hollis said of Jolie, in speaking to Variety. “There’s a universal nature to the intrigue she creates.”
There is a disparity between the filmgoers and the film reviewers. “Maleficent” gets an “A” from CinemaScore, but only a “51″ from critics, according to RottenTomatoes.com.
“Maleficent” is Disney’s latest CGI-heavy attempt at reinventing classics from its vault — a strategy jump-started by 2010′s “Alice in Wonderland” from Tim Burton, which grossed more than $1-billion globally. “Maleficent,” of course, is a reimagining of 1959′s animated “Sleeping Beauty” that — as the production “Wicked” did with “The Wizard of Oz” — tells the tale from the viewpoint of its original magical villain.
“Maleficent” left another new film, Seth MacFarlane’s “A Million Ways to Die in the West,” in the dust; the Western comedy grossed only $17.1-million. “Million Ways” finished third, also trailing the previous weekend’s champ, “X-Men: Days of Future Past,” which grossed $32.6-million and now has topped $162-million domestically.
FUN WITH NUMBERS
* “Maleficent” is the biggest domestic debut of Jolie’s career, topping her “Kung Fu Panda,” which opened to $60.2-million in 2008.
* “Maleficent” had the fifth-biggest domestic debut of the year (after “Captain America: The Winter Soldier”; “Godzilla”; “Amazing Spider-Man 2″; and “X-Men: Days of Future Past” — all of which did north of $90-million). It’s also Disney’s second biggest opening of the year, after “Captain America.”
* By point of comparison in Disney’s New Spins on Old Classics: 2010′s “Alice in Wonderland” opened domestically to $116.1-million; last year’s “Oz, the Great and Powerful” opened to $79.1-million; and 2012′s “Snow White and the Huntsman” opened to $56.2-million.