LOS ANGELES/NEW YORK (Reuters) -
"Maleficent," Walt Disney's special-effects laden take on "Sleeping
Beauty's" wicked fairy godmother, captivated moviegoers, collecting
$70 million in ticket sales to win the North American weekend box
The movie starring Angelina Jolie as the black-robed villain
finished far ahead of last week's winner, "X-Men: Days of Future
Past," which took $32.6 million at U.S. and Canadian theaters.
Seth MacFarlane's western comedy "A Million Ways to Die in the
West" was third with $17.1 million for the three days from
Friday to Sunday, according to box office tracking firm Rentrak.
Produced for $180 million, "Maleficent" received mixed reviews
but opened strongly with $4.2 million on Thursday night and
conjured up more than 80 percent of advance ticket sales for the
weekend, according to movie ticketing site Fandango.
The film is the latest in a line of reimagined classics,
following "Alice in Wonderland" in 2010 and "Oz the Great and
Powerful" in 2013. Industry experts forecast the film would open
with $55 million, according to the movie site Box Office Mojo.
"We're very excited with this start," said Dave Hollis, head of
distribution for Walt Disney Studios, noting it hoped for an
opening of around $60 million. "Maleficent" took in another $100
at overseas box offices.
Hollis said momentum built through weekend on positive word of
mouth. With schools beginning to let out and a "general absence
of family product in this marketplace," Disney was optimistic
for the film continuing its strong performance.
"X-Men: Days of Future Past," with Hugh Jackman and Patrick
Stewart in the seventh installment based on the Marvel Comic
series, has collected more than $162 million in sales in
domestic theaters since its May 23 release and has generated
$500 million worldwide in just two weeks, distributor Fox said.
"A Million Ways to Die in the West," MacFarlane's second time
directing a live action film after his 2012 hit "Ted" about a
foul-mouthed toy bear, disappointed in its opening weekend.
Studio and industry projections had anticipated a haul of about $20
million to $25 million for the modestly budgeted ($40 million) film
which stars MacFarlane along with Charlize Theron, Liam Neeson,
Sarah Silverman and Neil Patrick Harris. The film received tepid
reviews with only 33 percent of 128 critics giving it a "fresh"
rating on the Rotten Tomatoes site.
"Godzilla," the latest installment of the 60-year-old series about a
giant lizard, was fourth with $12.2 million. Made for $160 million,
the special effects infused film has generated $175 million
domestically since it was released on May 16.
"Blended," a romantic comedy pairing Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore
in their third film, was fifth with $8.4 million. They play single
parents stuck at a resort in Africa. "X-Men: Days of Future Past"
was distributed by Fox, a unit of Twenty-First Century Fox.
Universal, a unit of Comcast, released "A Million Ways to Die in the
West." "Godzilla" and "Blended" were distributed by Warner Brothers,
a unit of Time Warner.
(Reporting By Ronald Grover and Chris Michaud; Editing by Robin
Pomeroy and Cynthia Osterman)