'Maleficent' sequel tops N.America box office but underwhelms

Actors Angelina Jolie (L) and Michelle Pfeiffer pose at the European premiere of Disney's "Maleficent: Mistress of Evil" in October 2019 in Rome -- the film debuted in the top spot in North America

Disney's dark fairy tale sequel "Maleficent: Mistress of Evil" debuted atop the North American box office at the weekend, but the big-budget fantasy flick fell far short of expectations, industry figures showed Monday.

The film starring Angelina Jolie in the title role took in $36.9 million, but that was well shy of projections that it would earn $45 million and a sharp drop-off from the first film's $69.4 million launch in 2014.

"I don't think anyone was expecting it to open to the degree that the first one did, but for whatever reason, this film didn't resonate in North America," Paul Dergarabedian, a senior media analyst with Comscore, told Variety.

"Maleficent: Mistress of Evil" earned $117 million abroad.

Both films follow the evil sorceress of "Sleeping Beauty" fame; this time around, Michelle Pfeiffer co-stars as a scheming Queen Ingrith.

Slipping to second in its third week out was "Joker" at $29.3 million for the Friday-to-Sunday period, Exhibitor Relations said. It stars Joaquin Phoenix in the origin story about Batman's nemesis.

Debuting in third place was "Zombieland: Double Tap" -- a sequel to the 2009 comedy cult favorite once again starring Woody Harrelson, Emma Stone and Jesse Eisenberg. It took in $26.8 million.

Another Halloween-friendly film, "The Addams Family," slipped to fourth place in its second week at $16.3 million.

The computer-animated movie about the spooky family features the voices of Oscar Isaac, Charlize Theron, Snoop Dogg and Bette Midler.

Rounding out the top five was Paramount's "Gemini Man," starring Will Smith as a retired hitman who must face off against a younger clone of himself. It took in $8.3 million.

The rest of the weekend's top 10 were:

"Abominable" ($3.5 million)

"Downton Abbey" ($3.1 million)

"Judy" ($2.1 million)

"Hustlers" ($2.0 million)

"IT: Chapter Two" ($1.5 million)