‘Maleficent’ A Hit, Seth MacFarlane Western Flops

Last weekend at the U.S. box office, two films with strong animation ties opened in very different fashions. Disney’s Maleficent, a dark fantasy reimagining of the 1959 animated feature from the perspective of the villain, launched with $69.4 million. The Robert Stromberg-directed film tried to recapture the 2010 success of Disney’s live-action Alice in Wonderland, but fell short of that earlier film’s $116.1M opening. Even if it didn’t reach the heights of the earlier Tim Burton film, Maleficent still posted a strong debut, including a $100.6M international opening, and certainly won’t be the last Disney animated classic reheated as a live-action pic.

Meanwhile, A Million Ways to Die in the West, directed by and starring Family Guy creator Seth MacFarlane, sputtered with $16.8M. According to Box Office Mojo, “That’s less than one-third of Ted’s $54 million debut in June 2012. The movie even managed to open lower than past Summer comedy flops like Year One ($19.6 million), Land of the Lost ($18.8 million), The Dictator ($17.4 million) and The Internship ($17.3 million).”

The weak opening of Million Ways marks a rare miss for MacFarlane, who has generally enjoyed great success with his animated projects. The difference here is that MacFarlane relied on his own celebrity and acting instead of animation, which is what his fanbase likes about his work and has come to expect from him. The stark difference between the opening of Million Ways and Ted suggests that perhaps the earlier film’s success owes a bigger-than-acknowledged debt to its animated star.

In other box office office news, Happy Little Submarine 3: Rainbow Treasure opened with $3.3M in Chinese theaters.


  • etoons

    Seth MacFarlane reminds me of Flint Lockwood in that pic, with his mouth hanging open that wide.

    From the reviews I’ve read, it’s not just that fact that he cast himself in the lead; most of the humour is hit or miss: too much bathroom humour, and some of the jokes stretched on for too long. Every commerical I saw on tv always used that falling ice block gag, and that was supposed to be one of the better jokes. I doubt that will deter him from future films though. There’s supposed to be a Ted 2 coming at some point. Here’s hoping it will turn out better, because I liked the first one, yet I’m not sure what they could do in a sequel.

    Maleficent looks and sounds pretty cool though. Definitely looking forward to seeing it. By the way, does it use any of the Prokofiev music from Sleeping Beauty, or is it all original scoring?

    • Blair Bunting

      No, they went crazy and used Tchaikovsky music instead. That dumb Disney! Why are they not always whatever something should be but isn’t? Huh?

  • Chicken McPhee

    Just because Seth McFarlane did Family guy doesn’t make this a relevant comparison. You guys didn’t do much around Mission Impossible 4 either despite Brad Bird’s thing. MWTDITW is an R rated comedy, Maleficient rated G. If you do the math, there’s just simple statistical difference that will set the box office of these two movies apart.

  • khan8282

    Don’t forget the reviews were scathing going in. I myself would have seen it if I heard it was funny, but everyone says it sucks, so…

  • D

    Honestly I am not too surprised by this, based off the trailer alone I knew this was gonna be another one of Seth’s all around mediocre films and a completely juvenile poopoo and peepee joke fest, and after it seeing it (not of my own volition some friends dragged me too it) that is exactly what it was.

    Seth packed the film with a million jokes the problem is that not a single one hits its mark. The jokes are either forced or so steeped in that drunken frat boy humor that the only way anyone could find them funny is if they huffed paint thinner before entering the theatre. I knew it was going south fast when even my friends who are still die-hard Family Guy fans couldn’t even muster a smile.

    This film is really just one big star vehicle for MacFarlane (who is just too awkward on camera to elicit any kind of response) and one giant dick joke, fart joke, poop joke jamboree. I’m surprised that adults even wrote this dreck and even more surprised that there are still some people who find merit and humor in it.

    To think that some people are actually comparing this to the superb western satire Blazing Saddles absolutely dumbfounds me, those two films aren’t even on the same level, Blazing Saddles is actually funny and not in a contrived and overtly juvenile way.

    I find it interesting though that this article makes Maleficent out to be a “hit”, I wouldn’t say that. I found Maleficent to be all over the map tonally and so saturated in blatantly overdone CGI and computer effects that it really made me sick. It feels like nowadays you can just force CG and special effects down the audience throat and that all of a sudden makes up for a lack of character depth, story and tone. The only good thing about the film was Angelina Jolie’s performance and even that pales in comparison to original Maleficent voice actress Eleanor Audley’s masterful work for the character. This is a film for die-hard Sleeping Beauty fans and Disney completionists only.

  • James VanDam

    Why would Seth McFarlane make this movie rated R in the first place? His main fan base is from the ages of 12-15. From the trailer it just looked like a string of family guy cut-a ways all in a row.

    • jonhanson

      His last movie was rated R and made half a billion dollars.

  • The Gee

    The difference between one succeeding and the other not doing so well:
    More girls and women are choosing to watch “Malecifent” than a more general audience is choosing to watch a western. There’s too many options for everyone and MacFarlane’s movie had to be very, very well received to break through. They should have released in in the Fall.

    But, for “Malecifent” women and their daughters, and, girls and their friends are the ones who are going to continue to see the Disney movie. If “A Million Ways to Die at the Boxoffice” is rated R then it should have came out later this year because the multi- ticket sales are for family fare.

  • jonhanson

    I wasn’t too sold on the animation argument but Ted made $300 million overseas where comedies rarely do that great. I’ve met a number of Asians who love that damn bear. There’s something universal about an animated character like Ted who can appeal to any age, race, color or nationality. Dub Ted into Chinese and it works, dub Seth McFarlane into Chinese and it’s harder to buy.

  • jonhanson

    I don’t know how I missed 1 and 2!

  • jonhanson

    Seems like a case of counter-programming gone wrong. Maybe they assumed people would be getting tired of big-budget blockbusters and in the mood for something different. That might have worked in a few months but like you say it seems too early in the season for that.

  • Ant G

    Loved the “in other box office office news” sentence, more hilarious than ‘Million Ways’

  • Ant G

    I see you’re equating the opening weekend of both movies with their production budgets, but this wasn’t a hollywood movie compared to an independent one; they were both well advertised to their markets regardless of what it cost to actually make the films, so yes in that respect (i.e. big hollywood film with big name actors and strong advertising), it is a flop.

    • jonhanson

      I mainly thought it was interesting, I don’t doubt that it’s a disappointment compared to Ted. I just meant to point out that A Million Ways made close to half of it’s budget back while Malificent made a little closer to a third or two fifths of it’s budget. I did think about adding something about the additional marketing costs but as you say these are both major studio pictures so I assume both have similar marketing budgets, proportionally at least. Not trying to argue against anything Amid said, just think extra context makes it more interesting

  • Ant G

    I dont know if Maleficent is Disney’s most iconic anything. She’s been underrated compared to Disney’s actual popular villains

    • jhalpernkitcat

      Maleficent is by no means underrated. I’ve seen her quite high on Disney villain lists.

  • Chris Sobieniak

    For someone who turned 40, it’s amazing he looks that good at all, but I guess makeup works wonders on anyone in Hollywood.

  • http://mattdeanart.com Matt Dean

    I’m now starting to realize that picture of McFarlane at the top of the page makes his face look like a Scream mask. GOOD GOD.

    Between Dads’ cancellation and this, it looks like live action is working less and less towards his favor.

  • fredinandus
    • Fried

      I forgot how 2006 was super recent. There’s been no discussion about his work on Silicon Valley even though that’s live-action, but when Seth does something it’s immediate animation news regardless of what the project is.

  • http://fullrad.tumblr.com WILBO

    I phrased it badly. He just doesn’t look right on camera. Slightly awkward and weird looking. I don’t think people have to be attractive in films in fact I think the opposite but they still need to look right. Some people have it and some don’t.

  • Myst AnimatorX

    Maybe people are finally growing tired of Seth’s svtick. I’ve always defended him as a really hard worker who deserves his success but, maybe we can let some other animators have a little.

  • a Man or a Mouth

    Seth McFarlane’s mouth looks strange in ANY and EVERY photo taken of him.

  • Chicken McPhee

    Actually, domestically, Incredibles did better than Ghost Protocol. Ratatouille made out about the same as Ghost Protocol. Bird sure knows how to rake in the cash: By making great films. As they say, proof is in the pudding :D

  • Chicken McPhee

    He’s creme de la creme. And also the only filmmaker I can think of, off the top of my head, who has a SPOTLESS record. Every movie he’s made has been nothing short of excellent, some are even perfect!

    • http://tresportfolio.tumblr.com/ Tres Swygert

      I fully agree! I’ve been a fan of him as a director after being introduced to his direction for The Iron Giant. He is truly a great storyteller, and I do hope he comes back to do animation again…especially if he can convince executives to make it hand drawn. :)