"Maleficent: Mistress of Evil" — Disney to tumble after "Aladdin"?

Maleficent dir. Robert Stromberg 2014

Maleficent: Mistress of Evil is the Disney sequel that may have already missed its chance.

Disney has just surprised audiences with a sudden Maleficent: Mistress of Evil update. The studio has an incredibly busy year again, with live-action remakes of The Lion King, Dumbo and Aladdin all on the way. Then, there's original output, MCU instalments and the final film in the new sci-fi trilogy, Star Wars: Episode IX. Safe to say, the spotlight is firmly on Disney Studios in 2019. 

Taking all of these ventures into account, it's sure to be their most significant year yet, destined to account for the vast majority of the year's box-office. Despite this, they have decided to bring one of their 2020 projects forward considerably: Maleficent: Mistress of Evil

As reported by Empire, the sequel to 2014's Maleficent was scheduled for release in May 2020. Now, we're looking at a much sooner date of October 2019. The year is already saturated with incoming Disney content, so the studio really is set to dominate with this addition. Or are they?

Maleficent was praised by audiences on release and currently holds an impressive 7.0 audience score on IMDb. On the other hand, critics were a little less impressed, with some considering it to be tonally inconsistent and visually dreary. However, it seems that the public had spoken - or the box-office, rather - and a sequel was certainly set in stone. The problem comes down to timing. Sure, a follow-up could have been a hit, but after a number of years, it's hard to imagine the film living up to the financial success of the first. 

Of course, Angelina Jolie is reprising the role and there are many who will happily pay to see her don the horns in another feature. Then, there are also many who would have enjoyed a sequel if it were more immediate, perhaps two or three years later. Releasing it five years after the first film and amidst a raging sea of more alluring Disney output, there are bound to be a huge percentage of people who pass it by in favour of something more promising. 

Now, that's not to say that Maleficent: Mistress of Evil won't be a success - it very well could be. However, the studio are already taking a huge gamble on Guy Ritchie's Aladdin, which has attracted nothing but criticism ever since the trailer dropped. If the live-action remake is set to be the misfire that Disney fans are already predicting, then general audiences could become much more selective with the studio's remaining output in 2019, perhaps even beyond. Maleficent: Mistress of Evil isn't exactly one of the year's event movies, of which Disney has many, so an underwhelming performance is definitely foreseeable. There's sure to be a wide range of horror output on at the cinema during the Halloween season, so when the time comes, the question may be this: "Why Maleficent: Mistress of Evil?"

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