Halloween hots up with ‘Maleficent 2’s $50m opening

After ‘The Addams Family’ kicked off the Halloween season last weekend, this release window opens wide to 2 more spooky flicks in the form of ‘Maleficent: Mistress of Evil’ and ‘Zombieland: Double Tap’. The latter’s aiming for a $50m start to finally break the chains of ‘Joker’s 2-week stronghold, while ‘Zombieland 2’ looks for a top 3 finish with a $20m+ opening.

So, what’s opening this weekend?

We start with ‘Maleficent 2’, the latest Disney live-action remake that should finish in 1st this weekend, barring a miracle performance by ‘Joker’. While the DC Comics adaptation has so far exceeded expectations with every passing day, it won’t trouble Angelina Jolie and co, whose movie comes off the back of one of the more successful reimaginings.

Back in 2014, ‘Maleficent’ opened to a staggering $69.4m on its way to $241.4m domestically, and $758.5m worldwide. 5 years on and the entire catalogue of Disney remakes have only grown stronger, culminating in ‘The Lion King’s record-breaking summer performance. ‘Maleficent 2’ looks set to continue the trend, with little competition in the way of family-friendly Halloween fodder apart from ‘The Addams Family’s 2nd weekend. In fact, Disney were so confident about the film’s success that they brought it forward by 7 months, from its original summer 2020 release slot. What could possibly go wrong here?

Not much. Although ‘Maleficent 2’ hasn’t been well-received by the critics (it carries just 46% on RT), ‘Maleficent’ didn’t fare much better, drawing just 53% on the Tomatometer. The sequel actually earns Disney the unique feat of having all 4 films in their live-action remake roster this year earn ‘Rotten’ status – this, of course, didn’t stop them from earning a combined $1bn domestically.

Some issues do lie in the film’s re-emergence after 5 years away, however. As we’ve seen this year with ‘The LEGO Movie 2’, properties have an expiry date with audiences after being leaving the limelight – remember ‘Godzilla 2’?. Another damning example is the only other Disney reimagining sequel, ‘Alice Through The Looking Glass’ from 2016, whose $77m domestic total was $40m under predecessor’s ‘Alice in Wonderland’s $116.1m 3-day opening (not to mention its $334.2m finish) from 6 years beforehand.

What can audiences expect 5 years on, then? Jolie returns to the big screen since playing the title character half a decade ago, and sees her character once again lock horns with, and Elle Fanning’s Princess Aurora, with a cast that’ll also boast newcomers Chiwetel Ejiofor, Ed Skrein, and Michelle Pfeiffer. Unfortunately, such star-power won’t prevent a ‘Looking Glass’-like drop-off, but that franchise had a host of issues that ‘Maleficent 2’, doesn’t need to worry about. A $48m opening is forecast here for the film that’ll once again finish top.

If we thought ‘Maleficent 2’s 5-year gap was long, then what exactly is ‘Zombieland 2’s? Releasing 10 years after the 1st earned over $100m worldwide, ‘Zombieland 2’s production has rumbled on for seemingly forever, before being officially greenlit last summer. What we have now is a sequel whose budget has almost doubled (Emma Stone isn’t cheap), but whose audience are still as hungry.

The zombie comedy sees the return of Emma Stone, Woody Harrelson, Jesse Eisenberg, and Abigail Breslin, alongside newbies Rosario Dawson, Zoey Deutch, and Avan Jogia, and follows Tallahassee, Columbus, Little Rock, and Wichita 10 years later. The old writing duo of Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick are joined by Dave Callaham (‘The Expandables’), and Ruben Fleischer returns to the director’s chair, hot off of last year’s $800m success, ‘Venom’.

No $800m gross here though, with ‘Zombieland 2’ destined to fall behind ‘Joker’s 3rd weekend in the battle for the R-rated crowd. As comedy sequels go, it’s a little difficult to pinpoint just where this film’s to open, but honestly, we don’t see it differing too much from ‘Zombieland’s $24.7m start from 2009. A $25m opening should be enough for ‘Zombieland 2’ to finish 3rd, although don’t be surprised to see the die-hard fans push this past $30m by Sunday night.

What else is on?

Joker’ will continue its march to greatness this weekend, looking to earn over $34m to break the $250m domestic barrier. If it does, it’ll move past the 1989 classic ‘Batman’ to enter the top 30 list of all-time highest-grossing comic book adaptations in U.S. history. It’ll also become one of the 10 biggest R-rated films ever, after just 17 days of release.

Last weekend’s new entrants hope to stand strong in the face of new blood, with ‘The Addams Family’ especially looking to earn around $20m in its 2nd weekend. Will Smith’s ‘Gemini Man’ won’t be able to cope however, with an estimated $9m leaving the film in a sorry position.

Rank Last Week’s Rank Film STUDIO Budget JUMPCUT’s prediction Weekend drop Week no.
1 New! Maleficent: Mistress of Evil Disney $48.6m 1
2 1 Joker Warner Bros $55m+ $34.1m -39.0% 3
3 New! Zombieland: Double Tap Sony $42m $25m 1
4 2 The Addams Family UAR $40m $18.2m -39.9% 2
5 3 Gemini Man Paramount $138m $9.3m -54.7% 2
6 4 Abominable Universal $75m $3.1m -48.9% 4
7 5 Downton Abbey Focus Features $13m+ $3m -38.5% 5
8 6 Hustlers STX Entertainment $20m $2.4m -38.3% 6
9 7 Judy LD Entertainment $2.1m -34.7% 4
10 8 It Chapter Two Warner Bros $79m $1.7m -45.8% 7