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Weekend Box Office Preview

Deadline film editor Anita Busch and Dominic Patten look ahead at the weekend box office, with 'Maleficent' a good bet for the No. 1 spot.

hr_Maleficent_42UPDATED: FRIDAY, 9:00 AM: Maleficent opened last night and conjured up a magnificent $4.2M for Disney, readying for the weekend box office blast by clearly bringing in the adult audience. It has been tracking anywhere between $60M to $70M and now you can bet on the high end (maybe $68M). Maleficent grossed above the $3.9M that Alice in Wonderland grossed in 2010 when it bowed at midnight and also the $2M gross at 9 p.m. with Oz: The Great and Powerful, which ended up with an opening weekend of $79.1M  (but that was a better picture).

IMAX is estimating that it took in 13.3% of that $4.2M late night gross or about $560K. X-Men didn’t have the benefit of IMAX last weekend because Godzilla had a stronghold on those screens; they did have large formats though via other exhibs.

Disney sold the picture on a trailer that clearly made it seem too scary for small children, but the kids I was in the theater with on Wednesday night seemed to enjoy it. The five and six year olds were a bit frightened.  It’s a great start to the weekend for this picture. Will be interesting to see what kind of CinemaScore it gets tonight. Right now, Disney’s in-house research shows that the film skewing 54% female and 46% male.

Still waiting to see how the Seth speaks movie plays out as well as how good a hold/how far a drop (depending on your perspective) this weekend will see for X-Men: Days of Future Past. Godzilla dropped 67% in its second weekend, X-Men: The Last Stand also dropped 67% in its sophomore frame after the Memorial Day holiday. Captain America: The Winter Soldier dropped about 51% in its second frame while ASM2 dropped 59%.

A_Million_Ways_To_Die_In_The_West_-_mov-2500_1600x1200_2460232490_genSpeaking of dropping, Seth speaks … I mean A Million Ways to Die in the West … was muted in late night Thursdays (8 p.m.), making only around $891K in 2,290, according to estimates this morning. However, it’s really not a great indicator of the entire weekend … best wait to see tonight’s numbers.

Enough about Seth, what about Angie who is the most watchable character in the movie. Anecdotally, Maleficent is No. 5 behind The Amazing Spider-Man 2, Godzilla, Neighbors and X-Men: Days of Future Past in terms of social media activity over the past 30 days, according to RelishMix which tracks social engagement of the Big Three (Facebook, YouTube and Twitter). “Fans are engaged with Maleficent YouTube trailers up to an earned/owned ratio of 11 to 1, showing growing intent especially for a family movie,” says RelishMix CEO Marc Karzen. On Facebook and Twitter, Angelina Jolie’s fans are looking for Brad Pitt being socked on the red carpet by the idiot, attention-seeking Ukranian.

Fandango reports that its pre-sales are outselling Maleficent producer Joe Roth’s Oz: The Great and Powerful which opened in March of last year as well as Snow White and the Huntsman (which Uni opened June 1, 2012) at the same point in the sales cycle. This looks like its gonna be two out of three for Roth so far … although Million Dollar Arm didn’t perform as anyone would have liked at Disney, Sony’s Heaven is For Real from filmmaker Randall Wallace is already up to $87.2M and still playing out. Oz: The Great and Powerful ended up with $493.3M worldwide (split pretty evenly between domestic and international) in 2013. Is it any wonder that Disney and Roth are doing a sequel?

PREVIOUSLY: THURS, 1:15 PM: Maleficent-Official-TrailerMaleficent, the Disney fantasy movie starring Angelina Jolie that has a trailer that’s scarier than the film itself (which is good news or bad news, depending on your age group), is opening tonight at 7 p.m. This weekend, the CGI fractured — uh, dark — fairy tale will be in 3,948 theaters of which 2,951 will be 3-D, on 346 Imax screens and on 213 large-format screens (and 121 D-Box locations). So, see ya, Godzilla; it was fun while it lasted.

Maleficent is expected to easily take the No. 1 box office spot this weekend, followed by last weekend’s opener, X-Men: Days of Future Past, which is tracking right now in the high $30Ms. Saturday should be an interesting day for Maleficent given that it’ll be its first family moviegoing day. The film already is opening above expectations overseas. Tracking currently has it between $60M and $70M.

Related: Disney’s ‘Maleficent’ Opens With $2.5M In UK As International Rollout Begins

A_Million_Ways_to_Die_in_the_West_posterThe weekend’s other opener, Seth MacFarlane’s A Million Ways To Die In The West from Universal Pictures — which has been taken to task by critics for being too long — could come low- to mid-$20Ms or mid- to high-$20Ms, depending on how much moviegoers pay attention to the critics. People seem to either love MacFarlane’s humor or hate it. The picture, co-financed with the studio by Media Rights Capital, rides into 3,152 theaters tomorrow.

They all previously paired on MacFarlane’s first film, 2012’s Ted, which became the highest-grossing original R-rated comedy ever tallying $549 million worldwide. Hey, Uni, you want Ted 2? You gotta saddle up for A Million Ways To Die In The West. At least it has a decent cast with Charlize Theron, Liam Neeson, Amanda Seyfried, Giovanni Ribisi, Sarah Silverman and Neil Patrick Harris (in addition to MacFarlane).

This movie also opens in 22 territories tomorrow. So let the showdown begin.