Cinderella outruns Neeson
CINDERELLA enchanted audiences over the weekend, racking up a royal US$70.1 million (S$97.4 million) to lead the United States and Canadian box office and a massive US$132 million globally.
The adaptation of the classic fairy tale follows Walt Disney Studios' strategy of raiding its library of animated favourites to refashion as live-action blockbusters - an approach that yielded such successes as Maleficent and Alice In Wonderland, and one the studio plans to employ on Dumbo and Beauty And The Beast.
"From a company perspective and a public perspective, fairy tales are a part of our DNA," said Dave Hollis, Disney's distribution chief. "This is decidedly something that Disney does and does well."
Cinderella's popularity left Liam Neeson's latest action-adventure, Run All Night, huffing and puffing at the finish line. The Warner Bros release pulled in a lacklustre US$11 million from 3,171 theatres, lower than pre-release tracking which suggested a debut in the US$15 million range. The audience for the story of a father protecting his son (Joel Kinnaman) from mob hitmen was 52 per cent female and 86 per cent over the age of 25.
Warner Bros domestic distribution chief Dan Fellman said he was particularly surprised that the film attracted more women than men.
"I'm a little disappointed in the results," said Mr Fellman. "We just got off to a slow start...we felt it should have been a stronger second place, but at this point, we're hoping we get a good multiple and a great hold."
It's possible that Neeson, who was recently seen making short work of European bad guys in January's Taken 3, has simply been brandishing the gun a bit too much of late.
Run All Night cost US$50 million to produce, so it will need to attract foreign crowds if it wants to break even.
Cinderella opened across 3,845 theatres in North America and cost US$95 million to produce. Opening weekend crowds were 68 per cent female, 66 per cent families and 31 per cent comprised moviegoers under the age of 12.
"This was a strong protagonist and an aspirational character," said Mr Hollis. "We took the high bar reached by the classic animated film and built on it. This will now be something that complements the original."
The film wasn't in 3D, but it did get a nice boost from other premium formats. Imax represents 7 per cent of Cinderella's gross and premium large formats comprised 8 per cent of the box-office results.
Cinderella couldn't match the US$116.1 million debut of Alice In Wonderland, but it did surpass the US$69.4 million premiere of Maleficent. That's impressive considering that, despite featuring Cate Blanchett and Downton Abbey's Lily James, Cinderella lacked a star on the level of Johnny Depp or Angelina Jolie to bring in the crowds.
It also cost half of the roughly US$200 million each that Disney spent producing those fantasies. Cinderella was a juggernaut overseas, picking up an estimated US$62.4 million, US$25 million of which came from China. The film opened in about 60 per cent of the international marketplace, including major territories such as Russia, Italy, Mexico and Germany.
Cinderella helped lift domestic ticket sales - which had been lagging behind last year's box-office results for two weeks - more than 16 per cent over the year-ago period to top out at US$133 million. The key was providing some fresh all-ages fare to a marketplace that had been dominated by adult films such as Fifty Shades Of Grey and Focus.
"It's been an R-rated world at the box office and for families, this was a dream come true," said Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst at Rentrak. "They were sitting on the sidelines and waiting for a family-friendly weekend."
As Cinderella proves, dreams do come true.