The cavalcade of 2019 Disney live-action reimaginings continues next weekend with Maleficent: MistressofEvil. The fantasy adventure is the sequel to 2014’s Maleficent, which focused on the villainous title character from SleepingBeauty. Angelina Jolie returns along with Elle Fanning, Sam Riley, Imelda Staunton, Juno Temple, and Lesley Manville. Newcomers to the fold include Chiwetel Ejiofor, Ed Skrein, and Michelle Pfeiffer. Joachim Rønning (who recently co-directed the Mouse Factory’s PiratesoftheCaribbean: DeadMenTellNoTales) takes over for Robert Stromberg.
When it comes to comps for how Mistress might perform, that’s a tricky calculation. Since the release of part 1 five summers ago, there’s been eight Disney updates of their classic animated material. The last two from this summer (Aladdin and TheLionKing) were massive blockbusters based on beloved 1990s pics. This spring’s Dumbo, on the other hand, premiered with a so-so $45 million.
What about Maleficent itself? It opened just under $70 million with a $241 million eventual domestic haul. Yet five years is a fairly long break between sequels and some of the kiddos who attended could take a pass here. That brings up the example of AliceinWonderland and AliceThroughtheLookingGlass. In 2010, Wonderland was the first significant reimagining in several years. It debuted to $116 million. Six years later, LookingGlass was a huge flop and earned in the mid 20s for its start. For a non Disney example, SnowWhiteandtheHuntsman kicked off with a robust $56 million in 2012. Four years, its follow-up TheHuntsman: Winter’sWar sputtered with a meager $19.4 million.
While I don’t anticipate the drop-off here will be quite as dramatic as the last two scenarios, I do feel Evil will come in markedly lower than its predecessor. I’ll predict low to mid 30s could be the range and that means around half of the bounty from half a decade ago.
Maleficent: MistressofEvil opening weekend prediction: $32.3 million
For my Zombieland: Double Tap prediction, click here:
Mister Rogers isn’t the only PBS star getting the silver screen treatment this fall as DowntonAbbey hits theaters next weekend. Based on the acclaimed drama about an aristocratic British clan in the 1920s, the film picks up after the series finale from 2016. Julian Fellowes, creator of the program which aired stateside on the public access channel, did the screenplay. Michael Engler directs with numerous cast members returning including Hugh Bonneville, Michelle Dockery, Laura Carmichael, Jim Carter, Elizabeth McGovern, Matthew Goode, Penelope Wilton, and Maggie Smith.
Abbey had lots of dedicated followers to go with its multitude of Emmys and they should be curious to see the saga continue. While some could choose to wait and watch the family on the small screen like they’re accustomed to, I suspect a sizable amount will turn up in the cinema.
I was surprised to see this is set to premiere on over 3000 screens. That puts it in contention to compete with Rambo: LastBlood and AdAstra as the weekend’s highest grossing newcomer. My estimate of just over $20 million puts it just ahead of Mr. Stallone and ahead of Mr. Pitt.
DowntonAbbey opening weekend prediction: $20.8 million
Fans of the British period piece series DowntonAbbey, which aired stateside on PBS, will get their fix nearly four years after its conclusion with a film version. Written by its creator Julian Fellowes, Abbey picks up shortly after the events of the series finale with many cast members (Hugh Bonneville, Maggie Smith, and more) returning to their roles.
The show was no stranger to major awards attention, including Golden Globes, BAFTAs, SAGs, and dozens of Emmy nods. Could that TV love translate to Oscar voters noticing the cinematic rendering?
Probably not in major categories. Abbey has a current Rotten Tomatoes score of 80% and while reviews are solid, I don’t see this getting attention in Picture or the acting derbies. On the other hand, Production Design and especially Costume Design could be doable. My Oscar Watch posts will continue…