Cinderella has a Ball at the Box Office
By John Hamann
March 15, 2015
With Cinderella, Disney has once again robbed their classic animation vault only to find more treasure by transitioning a classic from animated to live action.
Like with Alice in Wonderland and Maleficent, the Mouse House has once again found fortune in updating classic cinema. What better way to produce a successful picture than replicate success the studio has already had? Disney’s latest release is Cinderella, Kenneth Branagh’s live action update of the 1950 animated classic. Disney found huge success with Alice in Wonderland, enjoying a surprise $116 million opening and billion dollar worldwide gross after remaking the 1951 trippy toon. Maleficent had the same live action success but to a lesser degree, opening to $70 million before turning in a $758 million worldwide take. The stage was set for Cinderella. All she had to do was show up at the ball.
Also opening this weekend was Run All Night, the direct opposite of Cinderella. The R-rated actioner trotted out Liam Neeson protecting his fictional family (again). The question coming into the weekend is whether audiences are growing tired of Neeson breaking the arms of his family’s oppressors, as we seem to get the same movie every time Neeson’s name appears above the title.
Number one this weekend is Cinderella, the long-simmering family film that has been waiting in the wings for its chance to burst onto the big screen. That it did this weekend, starting on Thursday with an eye opening $2.3 million from previews. That was bigger than some other Disney Thursdays such as Big Hero 6 at $1.4 million, but with some schools already out for Spring Break last week, those numbers could have been skewed higher due to youngsters being able to stay out later during their holiday. The combined Thursday preview/Friday gross came in at an impressive $23 million, and at that point, Disney knew it had another event on its hands.
That first Friday was in the same ballpark of what both Maleficent ($24.3 million) and Oz the Great Powerful ($24.1 million) earned on their first days. Given that Maleficent had a late-May release date, and Oz carried the weight of being connected to one of the biggest fantasy films released in the history of mankind, I would think Disney is pleased to be in the same conversation as these two films.
Released to 3,845 venues and with Spring Break now in full swing for most kids, Cinderella had a chance to shine, as there hasn’t been a release for kids since SpongeBob hit screens on February 6th. Dominate it did, earning $70.1 million over the weekend, benefitting from extra viewing opportunities on Sunday night and getting many screenings in IMAX, which carries an increased ticket price. That gives Cinderella an impressive venue average of $18,219 and an extremely strong domestic start for a film that cost a relatively small $95 million to make. Maleficent, which cost $180 million to make, debuted at $69.4 million, and Oz the Great and Powerful cost $215 million to make and opened to $79.1 million. Cinderella opened in the vicinity of these huge films and cost less than half on average. It would also appear that marketing costs were kept in check as well; I didn’t see the ambush marketing that we saw for either Maleficent or Oz.