Maleficent: Mistress of Evil Tops the Box Office but Joker Takes #2

Going into its third weekend, 'Joker' faced direct competition from 'Zombieland 2: Double Tap' but managed to top the horror-comedy sequel to take second spot at the domestic box office, losing top spot to this week's other sequel, 'Maleficent: Mistress of Evil'.

Domestic Box Office 18-20 October (Estimates):
1. Maleficent: Mistress of Evil $36m
2. Joker (2019) $29.2m
3. Zombieland 2: Double Tap $26.7m
4. The Addams Family (2019) $16m
5. Gemini Man $8.5m

Taking the number 1 spot this weekend just gone was Disney's 'Maleficent: Mistress of Evil'. The sequel to the 2014 reimagining of 'Sleeping Beauty' pulled in $36m at the domestic box office, a drastic decline compared to the original's $69.4m debut.

While Disney's run of live-action films based on their classic animated back-catalogue have been generating plenty of box office headlines, it's important to note that there are now a few under performers in that mix and with the dismal performance of last year's 'The Nutcracker and the Four Realms' (not one of these live-action remakes but it was released around the same time) not everything the Mouse touches turns to gold.

Some films sore and some fall, like 'Dumbo'. When Tim Burton's 'Dumbo' crashed at the box office the knee-jerk reaction was to write-off the live-action films, especially with the reaction to the first shots of Will Smith's 'Genie', that said, four films inside a year that are basically part of the same "franchise", if you can call it that, was always going to test the resolve of the audience. While 'Aladdin' (2019) and 'The Lion King' (2019) both topped a $billion, with the latter pulling  in $1.65bn globally making it the second best performer of the year only behind 'Avengers: Endgame', it's interesting to note that both of those, and 2017's smash hit 'Beauty & The Beast', are from the period known as the  "Disney Renaissance" so had more going for them in terms of recent nostalgia than remakes of classic animated features... as the novelty wears off, that is. 2016's 'The Jungle Book' came close to hitting the $billion mark and 2017's 'Maleficent' score a worldwide tally of $758.5m, so the older source material was bringing in the crowds, but just perhaps there were too many of them in one year and audiences decided to go for the stories that were closer to their childhoods as many, many parents taking their kids to 'Aladdin' and 'The Lion King' are from the generation who were caught up in the hype the first time those films hit the big screen. The challenge comes in the long-run now as other than 'The Little Mermaid', Disney have already burned through most of their strongest titles and based on the rate of release, that was the plan, make sure the heavy hitters all hit theatres within 3 years to ensure those titles rake in the mega-bucks before a genuine fatigue sets in.

Todd Phillip's 'Joker' has now pulled in $247,2m domestically and $490.3m from international markets for a global haul of $737.5m... which is huge for Warner Bros. as the reported production budget if $55m.

'Joker' is now the 9th biggest movie of 2019, set to become the highest-grossing R-rated movie ever (only has 'Deadpool' ($783.1m) to beat, 'Deadpool 2' did gross more than the first film but its $785m includes $47m from the PG-13 'Once Upon a Deadpool' release) and has cruised past the $657.9m worldwide gross of 2017's 'Justice League'.

I guess the surprise of the weekend was Sony's 'Zombieland: Double Tap' failing to take second as 'Joker' entered its third weekend. While the first film only debuted to $24.7m (unadjusted) back in 2009, it did go on to become a huge hit on home video. Even though the film's domestic opening weekend haul was near the top of industry estimates, I can't but help feel that had this film arrived far sooner than 2019, it would have been eyeing a $55-75m debut.

The original movie went to gross $102.3m worldwide against a $23.6m production budget, this time around, the budget is $42m, which is very modest for a 2019 film but the chances of it getting to much more than $102.3m is slim unless the bottom completely falls out from underneath 'Joker' and 'Terminator: Dark Fate' flops hard. 

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