Angelina Jolie's 'Maleficent' Opens Strong at the Box Office Because Leading Ladies Dominate

Despite the strong competition from Seth McFarlane's A Million Ways to Die in the West, it appears that Maleficent is going to emerge victorious from this box office stand off. Maleficent grossed $4.2 million in the first night of its opening weekend, which placed it ahead of two other beloved live action Disney movies and gives it a serious edge from the start. Of course, we've been in favor of seeing Maleficent rather than A Million Ways to Die in the West for days now, but it's nice to have it confirmed that people so far appear to be listening.

Still, the fact that Maleficent's opening night brought in higher revenue than Alice in Wonderland starring Johnny Depp and Oz: The Great and Powerful starring James Franco might be almost a surprise. Almost. Maleficent might not seem to be that much different than either of those Disney movies. They were all visually stunning and they all featured big name stars in tons of makeup. They were also all giving us a new look at a familiar story that we only thought we'd known all there was to know about.

However, Maleficent has a lot more going for it than Alice in Wonderland and Oz: The Great and Powerful ever did. Hopefully, Hollywood is taking notes.

Leading Ladies

Alice in Wonderland may have starred Mia Wasikowska as Alice, but the biggest name in the cast and the one that people flocked to the theaters to see was Johnny Depp. And, despite a strong performance from Mila Kunis, the headliner of Oz: The Great and Powerful was James Franco. Maleficent gives us not one, but two female leads in the form of Angelina Jolie and Elle Fanning, which proves, as Frozen proved, that Disney audiences love leading ladies.

Angelina Jolie

Maleficent presents us with Angelina Jolie in her first live action leading role in four years, ever since she appeared as Elise Clifton-Ward in 2010's The Tourist. While we got to hear her voice in Kung Fu Panda 2, there's no doubt that Jolie's fans have been dying to see her in all her magnificent glory on the big screen again. Depp and Franco's careers might be arguably waning, but Jolie's reign seems like a neverending thing.

Villain Protagonist

If there's one thing that Jolie has always been good at, it's playing the damaged bad girl. We saw her do it in Wanted, in Salt, in Mr. and Mrs. Smith, and she evidently shined at it in Maleficent. Her presence aside, audiences love stories that give classic villains nuance. Just look at the enduring popularity of Wicked, which re-imagines the Wizard of Oz from the point of view of the Wicked Witch of the West.

Lana Del Rey

The key component of the marketing for Maleficent, aside from Angelina Jolie doing anything, was Lana Del Rey's cover of Sleeping Beauty's "Once Upon a Dream". Slow and haunting and just a little bit creepy, the iconic song became even more iconic for how well it summed up the atmosphere of the movie. But then, considering this is the woman who performed at Kimye's wedding, her musical awesomeness was never in question.

Everything Else

Maleficent is projected to bring in over $60 million over the weekend and has the potential to be Jolie's biggest box office opening ever. With women leading the movie and the soundtrack, will Maleficent be the wake up call that Hollywood needs to realize that audiences prefer their movies with female leads instead of, or in addition to, male ones? We can only hope.

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