It seems that Disney films, even ones that go against “tradition” are almost guaranteed a good opening weekend, Maleficent starring Angelina Jolie has proved this with a very strong open that shows it is good to be bad, at least on celluloid. With this alternate version of the classic story of Sleeping Beauty grossing a domestic return of $70 million and a studio estimate of $100 million worldwide, the Walt Disney Studio hierarchy must be dancing with joy.
Of course the studios will not be the only ones overjoyed with this reworking of a literary and, prior, Disney classic hit. Jolie, the female part of “Brangelina” and a film star whose appeal has not diminished despite a nearly four year break, must also be, at the very least, relieved at the box office figures.
Feedback from those who have seen the film in cinemas has been varied. One reviewer stated that the movie was not nearly as violent as suggested by the trailers. It was also stated that the film was much “darker” but in terms of depressing rather than scary, which was the film’s, supposedly, original intent.
Another offered the fact that his daughter, despite being almost beside herself with anticipation of seeing the film, in the end did not like it. Indeed, most audiences seem to have flocked to see 38 year-old Jolie in her first film since the double mastectomy she endured instead of rushing because of the movie’s hinted storyline.
Not that any sort of tasteless publicity was needed to put bums of seats. Jolie was an item of interest due to her professional hiatus from filmmaking versus the topic of her health scare. After staying away from the silver screen for such a long time, critics and the audience would be very excited to see what Angelina would do with the part.
In terms of box office receipts, Maleficent has shown during its opening weekend that it is good to be bad, especially if that badness has a good reason.
As Forbes helpfully point out in their recap/review of the film, the Sleeping Beauty “remix” goes along the way of Dr. Suess’, and Ron Howard’s, How the Grinch Stole Christmas backstory. Just as the miserable green creature’s heart was shrunken by lack of use and misunderstanding, so too is Maleficent’s heart reduced in size.
While the events are a bit more horrific than those of the Grinch, they are not overtly so. Despite at least one critic believing that one of the film’s villainous characters would be more at home in Game of Thrones, the initial feedback is that there is not quite as much bloodshed in this faux fairytale as in the HBO series.
It has been mentioned, by more than a few critics, that the film, or at least Angelina Jolie’s part in it, looks stunning. However, high cheekbones and “regal” bearings do not a great film make. The one “review” on IMDb states that the film will appeal to grownups and children. However it does sound like the filmmakers have decided to straddle the fence in terms of violence and fear.
Other complaints have included a lack of cohesion in the film with little in the way of dialogue from anyone, including Angelina Jolie, with narration taking place of verbal interaction between the characters.
Reviews aside, the box office returns speak well for the film’s debut. Maleficent, Walt Disney Studios’ twisted version of Sleeping Beauty, proves it is good to be bad, with a very impressive $70 million opening weekend.
By Michael Smith