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SYFY WIRE Box Office

Box office: Maleficent: Mistress of Evil bewitches the top spot with $36 million, knocks Joker to second place

By Josh Weiss
Maleficent Mistress of Evil

Disney's Maleficent: Mistress of Evil knocked Joker out of first place at this weekend's box office with $36 million domestically.

While this was enough to secure the Sleeping Beauty-inspired sequel the coveted top spot, the fantasy film was only able to muster half of what its predecessor made, which was just over $69 million, during its three-day debut in theaters back in 2014. In foreign markets, the project enchanted $117 million for a global tally of $150 million.

Helmed by Joachim Rønning (half of the directorial duo behind Pirates of the Caribbean 5), Mistress of Evil sees Angelina Jolie returning to the titular role of a classic Disney villain, who—thanks to the last movie—is now a tragic figure with multiple dimensions. Elle Fanning (Princess Aurora), Sam Riley (Diaval), Imelda Staunton (Knotgrass), Juno Temple (Thistlewit), and Lesley Manville (Flittle) also come back to play their original characters. New faces include: Harris Dickinson (replacing Brentown Thwaites as Prince Phillip), Michelle Pfeiffer (Queen Ingrith), Chiwetel Ejiofor (Conall), and Ed Skrein (Borra).

Despite being removed from the reigning slot to second place, Todd Phillips' dark and grounded take on the Joker is still going strong, with an added $29 million from North American theaters. To date, it has laughed its way to $257 million domestically and  $737.5 million globally.

As Forbes pointed out yesterday, Joker has already surpassed Fox's Logan ($619 million) in international grosses and is already one of the highest-grossing R-rated films of all time. If it continues to perform as it has these last three weeks, it could unseat the first Deadpool ($783 million) for the title of biggest R-rated money maker in history.

In third place, we have Zombieland: Double Tap, the long-awaited sequel to 2009's Zombieland, with $26.7 million domestically. That's a little over $2 million more than the weekend opening of the first film, which went on to feast on the brains of $102 million all around the world. The project brings back director Ruben Fleischer, writers Paul Wernick and Rhett Reese, and the ensemble cast of Woody Harrelson, Jesse Eisenberg, Emma Stone, and Abigail Breslin.

Over the last 10 years, everyone involved with the initial Zombieland has gone on to do great things, be it winning Oscars (e.g. La La Land) or raking in hundreds of millions of box-office dollars (e.g. Deadpool and Venom). Double Tap expands the cast to include Rosario Dawson, Zoey Deutch, Luke Wilson, and Thomas Middleditch.

Two smaller genre openings this weekend come in the forms of Taika Waititi's Jojo Rabbit (released by Fox Searchlight) and Robert Egger's The Lighthouse (released by A24). The former made $350,000 from a limited debut in New York and Los Angeles, while the latter made $419,764 from eight U.S. theaters. 

Based on Christine Leunens' novel, Caging Skies, Jojo Rabbit is a coming-of-age comedy set during World War II, where a member of the Hitler Youth (Roman Griffin Davis) learns to reject the bigoted ideology of Nazi Germany when he discovers that his mother (Scarlett Johansson) is hiding a young Jewish girl (Thomasin McKenzie) in their home. Waititi, who co-wrote and directed the film, also plays the main character's best friend, an imaginary version of Adolf Hitler.

"[Charlie] Chaplin was doing it 80 years ago," Waititi told SYFY WIRE, addressing the question of whether one of the most evil men in human history can be portrayed as funny. "So I don’t know if it's too soon. Or is it not soon enough?"

Sam Rockwell, Stephen Merchant, Rebel Wilson, and Alfie Allen co-star.

Directed by co-written by Eggers (The Witch), The Lighthouse tells the story of two lighthouse keepers (played by Willem Dafoe and Robert Pattinson) who slowly begin to lose their minds in 18th-century New England. Adopting a black-and-white color palette as well as a smaller aspect ratio, the small-scale (not to mention bonkers) psychological horror film is an overt throwback to old-school cinema.

Jojo Rabbit The Lighthouse

After underperforming last weekend, Ang Lee's Gemini Man did even worse in its second outing with $8.5 million, bumping up its North American haul to $36.5 million. The clone-based film, which stars Will Smith in the main role, has fared better in foreign markets where it has made a little over $82 million for a global total of $118 million. An extra $20 million or so in the coming weeks will help Paramount break even on the long-gestating action-thriller.

(via Variety, The Hollywood ReporterBox Office Mojo)