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-office stakes.
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.
Made on a budget of $180 million, Maleficent received mixed reviews but opened strongly with $4.2 million on May 28 and conjured up more than 80 per cent 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-office.
Hollis said that 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 per cent 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.
Prankster hits Brad Pitt in the face at Maleficent premiere
An infamous red carpet prankster struck actor Brad Pitt on the face as he signed autographs at the Hollywood premiere of a film starring his partner Angelina Jolie.
Pitt, a Golden Globe-winning actor, was at the premiere of Maleficent, at the El Capitan Theater in Hollywood, California, when Vitalii Sediuk leaped over a fence and hit him, said Los Angeles Police Department spokesman Gus Villanueva. Pitt was not seriously hurt and authorities quickly subdued Sediuk, who was arrested for misdemeanour battery and remained in police custody on Wednesday night, Villanueva said. Sediuk is now being held, pending payment of $20,000 bail. “The officers who were handling him said it looked like it was intentional, but at this point, it remains to be determined,” said Sergeant Leonard Calderon for LAPD Hollywood.
Sediuk, 25, is a Ukrainian television reporter who has often pranked celebrities at red carpet events. In previous exploits, Sediuk has hugged actor Leonardo Di Caprio’s crotch at a Santa Barbara Film Festival event, stormed the stage during singer Adele’s Grammy acceptance speech, and been slapped by Will Smith after kissing the actor at a Moscow premiere.
Sediuk did not appear to be armed at the time of the attack on Pitt, and investigators have not yet determined a motive, said Villanueva, adding that he was likely to be arraigned.
Maleficent is Disney’s modern reimagining of the Sleeping Beauty fairytale, and Jolie stars as its villain.
Director Oliver Stone to adapt Edward Snowden story for film
Oscar-winning director Oliver Stone will be adapting the story of former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden for the big screen, from a book written by Guardian journalist Luke Harding. Stone, 67, with his production partner Moritz Borman, bought the film rights to Harding’s The Snowden Files: The Inside Story of the World’s Most Wanted Man, that delved into the events surrounding Snowden leaking numerous top-secret NSA surveillance programs to media.
“This is one of the greatest stories of our time. A real challenge. I’m glad to have the Guardian working with us,” Stone said in a statement. The film-maker, who has won Oscars for directing 1986’s Platoon and 1989’s Born on the Fourth of July, will write and direct the film and also include materials from the Guardian journalists who broke the story.
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