“Zombieland 2: Double Tap,” Sony’s sequel to the 2009 horror-comedy “Zombieland,” made $2.85 million at the Thursday box office from 3,052 screens beginning at 7 p.m., beating out Disney’s “Maleficent: Mistress of Evil,” which made $2.3 million in its preview showings beginning at 6 p.m.
Though “Double Tap” topped “Mistress of Evil” on Thursday, the “Maleficent” sequel is expected to be the top new release of the weekend and will make between $45-50 million, with Disney projecting an opening in the mid-$40 million range. “Zombieland 2” is projected between $25-30 million, with Sony predicting just a $23 million opening.
Both films face off against “Joker” for the top spot as it heads into its third weekend.
The original “Maleficent,” which was released in 2014, earned $4.2 million in its preview showing and went on to gross $69.4 million. For other comps, “Cinderella” earned $2.3 million in its Thursday previews and went on to make $68 million. Earlier this year, “Dumbo” brought in $2.6 million and grossed $46 million in its opening weekend.
Jolie stars in “Mistress of Evil” as the dark fairy, who becomes enraged when she learns that her goddaughter Aurora is meant to be married. It triggers a war between Maleficent and the Kingdom and even brings about the arrival of even more winged demons. Jolie leads a cast that includes Elle Fanning, Michelle Pfeiffer, Harris Dickinson, Sam Riley, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Ed Skrein, Juno Temple, Lesley Manville and Imelda Staunton. Joachim Rønning directs from a script by Linda Woolverton, Micah Fitzerman-Blue, and Noah Harpster.
“Zombieland 2: Double Tap” is the reunion of the cast, directors and writers behind the original “Zombieland” film from 10 years earlier. Jesse Eisenberg, Woody Harrelson, Emma Stone and Abigail Breslin all returned for the sequel along with director Ruben Fleischer and writers Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick. The original film opened at $24.7 million, and the new film is projected to perform in the same range. The only difference this time around is “Double Tap’s” inflated budget of $42 million compared to just $23 million for the first film.
“Double Tap” also has an R-rating, but in comparing it to other recent horror-comedies, “Tyler Perry’s Boo! 2: A Madea Halloween” did $760,000 in previews and opened to $21.2 million, and Sony’s “Goosebumps 2: Haunted Halloween” last year made $750,000 in its previews and opened to $15.8 million.
“Zombieland 2” added Zoey Deutch, Rosario Dawson, Avan Jogia, Luke Wilson and Thomas Middleditch to the cast as the ragtag family picks up 10 years after the events of the original film, still trying to settle down amid the zombie apocalypse. But they go back on the road again after Breslin’s character runs off with a boy and finds herself in danger of a new breed of super-powerful zombies.