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Maleficent: Mistress of Evil hits US top spot with muted $36 million debut

Maleficent 2

Story by Jack Foley

ANGELINA Jolie’s Maleficent: Mistress of Evil has stumbled to the top of the US box office with a muted debut of $36 million – Disney’s lowest opening of the year.

The sequel performed well below expectations, and fell 45% behind the $69.4 million launch of the original Maleficent five years ago.

There was, however, better news overseas, where the film did a little better than expected, taking $117 million from 56 markets for an early worldwide total of $153 million – the third-biggest global start ever for the month of October.

China led the way with $22.4 million, 15% ahead of the first film’s start, and better than Will Smith’s Gemini Man, which started off with $21 million.

Inspired by the villainous sorceress in Sleeping Beauty, the first Maleficent stunned in 2014 when it earned $758 million globally. The follow-up follows Maleficent and her god-daughter Aurora (Elle Fanning) as they question the ties that bind them together on the eve of the latter’s nuptials.

Michelle Pfeiffer also stars in the film as Queen Ingris, along with Juno Temple and Chiwetel Ejiofor.

Commenting on the film’s performance so far, Disney distribution chief Cathleen Taff said: “Overall, we are seeing a solid start for the film around the world, although it’s not as strong as we hoped for domestically. But we have a nice run up to Halloween and the audience reaction has been very positive.”

While Maleficent did manage to claim No.1 spot, there was still good news for those films that followed in its wake – most notably, Todd Phillips’ Joker, which continued to frolic in its third weekend, grossing $29.2 million to come in second.

Overseas, the DC title took in another $77.9 million for a massive global haul of $737.5 million, including $490.3 million internationally – the fourth-biggest showing ever for a DC title, not adjusted for inflation.

Zombieland 2: Double Tap came in third with a pleasing $26.7 million, in line with expectations and actually slightly ahead of the $24.7 million debut of the first Zombieland in 2009.

The R-rated film, which cost $42 million to produce after rebates and tax incentives, sees the return of Emma Stone, Jesse Eisenberg, Abigail Breslin and Woody Harrelson alongside newcomers Rosario Dawson and Zoey Deutch in director Ruben Fleischer’s decade-later sequel.

Animated release The Addams Family came in fourth in its second weekend with $16 million for a US tally of $56.8 million, while Ang Lee’s Gemini Man, featuring two Will Smiths, continued to struggle its second weekend, dropping 59% in the US to $8.5 million for a domestic haul of $36.5 million.

Internationally, the assassin thriller took in another $33.4 million for a still lacklustre foreign total of $82.2 million and $118.7 million globally. It now looks set to make some heavy losses.