Box-office observers believe Maleficent — featuring Jolie as the infamous sorceress from Sleeping Beauty — will benefit greatly from targeting girls and moms, as well as families, considering the glut of male-skewing tentpoles in the marketplace (Days of Future Past, Godzilla and The Amazing Spider-Man 2). Elle Fanning plays Princess Aurora in the 3D movie, which comes on the heels of Disney’s femme-fueled global juggernaut Frozen and marks Jolie’s first appearance in theaters in four years.
Despite critics claiming it would not happen, Maleficent bested the $3.9 million earned in midnight runs by fellow Disney live-action fairy tale Alice in Wonderland in March 2010 and the $2 million grossed by Oz the Great and Powerful in March of last year upon rolling out at 9 p.m. Thursday.
Disney noted that plenty of adults turned out Thursday night for Maleficent, and that 46 percent of ticket buyers were male, reflected in the fact that Imax locations turned in $560,000, or 13.3 percent of the $4.2 million.
Overseas, Maleficent began rolling out Wednesday, grossing a strong $20.1 million in its first two days from 35 territories including Russia, Germany, Australia, the U.K., Korea and Brazil.
Disney’s Maleficent has a strong shot at crossing $60 million in its domestic launch and pushing holdover X-Men: Days of Future Past out of the top perch at the box office. The movie is not a cheap proposition, having cost $175 million to produce after reshoots (there was reportedly tension between Jolie and first-time feature director Robert Stromberg).