Maleficent, Walt Disney's live-action twist on the animated classic Sleeping Beauty, captured the box-office crown with a $69.4 million weekend debut, surpassing forecasts.
The film, starring Angelina Jolie, pushed past 20th Century Fox's X-Men: Days of Future Past, which dropped to second with ticket sales of $32.5 million in U.S. and Canadian theaters, Rentrak Corp. said in an emailed statement on Sunday. A Million Ways to Die in the West, the new Seth MacFarlane romp, collected $16.7 million for Universal Pictures to place third.
Maleficent, buoyed by Jolie's portrayal of the embittered fairy, marks another success for Disney's movie division, following the Marvel sequel Captain America: The Winter Soldier and last year's Frozen. This time the studio retold one of its classics from the point of view of the villainess.
"You can't touch Disney," said Phil Contrino, chief analyst at BoxOffice.com.
Disney's film business has found success with its well-known Marvel superheroes, animated films from Pixar and new animated properties such as Frozen, which collected $1.22 billion in worldwide ticket sales and gave Disney a lucrative merchandising line.
The studio also has exploited its library of older movies by re-imagining characters and story lines. Oz the Great and Powerful took in $79.1 million in its debut in March 2013, and Alice in Wonderland grossed $116.1 million in its March 2010 opening.
In this film, the action is centered on Maleficent, the villainess of 1959's Sleeping Beauty. Jolie plays an innocent fairy who is betrayed and has her wings removed after defending her land from an invading army. Bent on revenge, she places a sleeping curse on the enemy king's newborn infant Aurora, dooming the girl to endless slumber once she reaches 16. As the child grows, Maleficent realizes the girl holds the key to peace in the kingdom and her happiness.
The movie, made for $200 million according to Imdb.com, received a mixed response from critics, garnering a 50 percent positive rating on review aggregator RottenTomatoes.com.
Jolie "breezes through the movie, part superstar, part superfreak," wrote Manohla Dargis in The New York Times.
The film, directed by Robert Stromberg, was praised by critics for its visual effects and Jolie's startling makeover, which has spawned cosmetics sales and YouTube how-to videos.
"It's a spectacular-looking film in 3-D, really lush and taking you places you've never been," producer Joe Roth said. "I felt that Angie is such a force on her own that the best way to support her was to have a great visual background."
A Million Ways to Die in the West, the spoof Western that reunites MacFarlane with the production company behind his 2012 hit Ted, Media Rights Capital, was projected to collect $25 million in its opening.
MacFarlane, who also directed the movie, stars as a cowardly farmer who begins to fall for a mysterious new woman. His new-found courage is tested when the woman's husband, a gunslinger, arrives on the scene.
The movie received a 33 percent positive rating on RottenTomatoes.com.
X-Men: Days of Future Past, starring Hugh Jackman and Patrick Stewart, is the second of a new trilogy that Fox is producing. Six previous pictures have collected $2.4 billion globally for the studio since 2000. X-Men: First Class, which kicked off the new series in 2011, took in $55.1 million in its debut.
Weekend revenue for the top 10 films fell less than 1 percent, to $158.9 million, from the year-earlier period, Rentrak said. Domestic box-office sales year to date are $4.22 billion, up 3 percent from a year earlier.
THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
The top 20 movies at U.S. and Canadian theaters Friday through Sunday, followed by distribution studio, gross, number of theater locations, average receipts per location, total gross and number of weeks in release, as compiled Monday by Rentrak, are:
Maleficent, Disney, $69,431,298, 3,948 locations, $17,586 average, $69,431,298, one week.
X-Men: Days of Future Past, 20th Century Fox, $32,551,098, 4,001 locations, $8,136 average, $162,020,201, two weeks.
A Million Ways to Die in the West, Universal, $16,797,385, 3,158 locations, $5,319 average, $16,797,385, one week.
Godzilla, Warner Bros., $12,008,129, 3,501 locations, $3,430 average, $174,439,686, three weeks.
Blended, Warner Bros., $8,144,303, 3,555 locations, $2,291 average, $29,350,839, two weeks.
Neighbors, Universal, $8,080,645, 2,939 locations, $2,749 average, $128,966,365, four weeks.
The Amazing Spider-Man 2, Columbia, $3,778,605, 2,152 locations, $1,756 average, $192,735,902, five weeks.
Million Dollar Arm, Disney, $3,588,444, 2,329 locations, $1,541 average, $27,985,053, three weeks.
Chef, Open Road, $1,911,548, 624 locations, $3,063 average, $6,826,431, four weeks.
The Other Woman, 20th Century Fox, $1,388,886, 1,114 locations, $1,247 average, $81,076,034, six weeks.
Belle, Fox Searchlight, $1,258,965, 525 locations, $2,398 average, $6,188,898, five weeks.
Rio 2, 20th Century Fox, $1,116,233, 983 locations, $1,136 average, $124,320,737, eight weeks.
Heaven Is for Real, Columbia, $800,872, 722 locations, $1,109 average, $88,013,347, seven weeks.
Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Disney, $627,266, 539 locations, $1,164 average, $255,176,550, nine weeks.
The Grand Budapest Hotel, Fox Searchlight, $374,752, 249 locations, $1,505 average, $57,338,771, 13 weeks.
Divergent, Lionsgate, $327,133, 373 locations, $877 average, $148,640,555, 11 weeks.
Grand Seduction, Entertainment One Films, $323,743, 94 locations, $3,444 average, $323,743, one week.
The Immigrant, The Weinstein Co., $311,769, 150 locations, $2,078 average, $1,085,340, three weeks.
Moms' Night Out, Columbia, $293,047, 383 locations, $765 average, $9,590,223, four weeks.
The Lego Movie, Warner Bros., $276,486, 302 locations, $916 average, $255,436,997, 17 weeks.
MovieStyle on 06/06/2014
Print Headline: Maleficent holds sway at box office