Angelia Jolie’s fantasy epic “Maleficent” has over-achieved for Disney this summer, and is wracking up the milestones.
It’s about to cross $400 million at the international box office and, with more than $203 million domestically, it topped $600 million worldwide on Wednesday. That’s without the benefit of this weekend’s opening in Japan, where “Maleficent” is expected to end the 16-week No. 1 run of another Disney hit, “Frozen.”
Star-driven blockbusters are rare in these days of high-concept comic book-based epics, but “Maleficent” is very much one.
“It had a cool concept and great marketing,” Rentrak senior media analyst Paul Dergarabedian told TheWrap, “But it had the perfect star, and that made the biggest difference.”
Disney had originally planned to open “Maleficent,” which was produced for $180 million, in North America on the July 4 weekend but moved it up to May 30. It debuted to a better-than-expected $69 million and has displayed extraordinary staying power at the domestic box office since.
Like the rest of the summer’s No. 1 movies, it fell out of the top spot in its second week. But unlike the others, most of which saw steep drops after their openings, “Maleficent” has remained in more than 3,000 theaters and its grosses have fallen off just 50 percent, 46 percent, 30 percent and 35 percent in successive weeks.
Audiences for “Maleficent,” an update on Disney’s classic animated tale “Sleeping Beauty” told from the perspective of the evil queen, skewed family and female. But you don’t hit the numbers it has without attracting men, too.
“A lot of that is Angelina, who men love and women admire,” said Dergarabedian. “There’s not a lot of stars out there like that.”
He thought the marketing campaign had a lot to do with its appeal to men as well, including the “Maleficent” title.
“It doesn’t sound gender specific, whereas if you called it ‘Sleeping Beauty,’ a lot of guys might have run for the hills.”
Another box-office boon for “Maleficent” has been the ticket up-charges for 3D and Imax, particularly overseas where the formats are especially popular.
The director is Robert Stromberg, who served as production designer on “Avatar” as well as Disney’s “Alice in Wonderland” and “Oz: The Great and Powerful.” Disney marketers played up the visual world he created for “Maleficent” with trailers and commercials that emphasized its scope and look.
“Maleficent” debuted overseas at the same time it rolled out in the United States, getting ahead of the World Cup hysteria. It opened in 48 foreign markets to more than $100 million and, as in the U.S., has held up impressively. It’s been No. 1 in Italy, for example, since it opened five weeks ago. Its top earning markets so far have been Mexico ($40 million) and China ($38 million).
“We’ve had an incredible run with ‘Frozen’ and it’s been a terrific platform for exposing audiences to ‘Maleficent’,” said Disney’s head of distribution Dave Hollis. “There are some significant similarities between the films — its female-empowering message, for one — and we think it will be embraced there.”