‘Maleficent: Mistress of Evil’ Cost Half a Billion Dollars and Nobody Is Seeing It

     October 21, 2019

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Maleficent: Mistress of Evil, the sequel to the 2014 film starring Angelina Jolie as the iconic Disney villain, had a dismal opening weekend, pulling in just $36 million in North America. Even though the movie was #1 at the domestic box office, it fell short of projections, putting the film’s ultimate success in question. With a budget of $185 million and a considerable marketing price tag, that’s not the kind of question Disney wants to be asking.

Maleficent herself isn’t much for looking on the bright side of things, but Mistress of Evil fared substantially better overseas, with an international gross of $117 million. That news undoubtedly cushions the blow of its somewhat anemic stateside opening weekend, but the film’s hefty budget and marketing costs means it’ll have to grab at least $475 million worldwide to break even. That’s almost the entire international gross of the 2014 original, which had considerably more buzz and nearly double the opening weekend haul.

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Image via Disney

The film’s tepid reception could be blamed on a few things. For one, it’s a sequel to a movie that came out five years ago. Even though the original was a big hit, it hasn’t exactly stayed in the zeitgeist. (When was the last time you heard someone mention Maleficent?) Also, while the first one wasn’t a critical darling, reviews have been much cooler for Maleficent: Mistress of Evil, which is currently sitting at a 40% on Rotten Tomatoes. Not helping matters is strong competition from a surprisingly crowded October, with The Addams Family likely dividing some of Maleficent’s target family audience, and a continually dominating showing from Joker, the movie that wouldn’t go away.

If Maleficent: Mistress of Evil doesn’t manage to recover its half-a-billion-dollar price tag, it’ll join Dumbo as pretty much the only movies released by Disney in 2019 that didn’t set some kind of box office record, which would be impressive if Disney didn’t own virtually every corner of entertainment.

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