As expected, Cinderella was the belle of the box office ball this weekend. Disney’s live-action take on the classic fairytale took in an estimated $70 million from 3,845 locations. That ranks as the fifth highest March opening of all time, behind The Hunger Games, Alice in Wonderland, Oz the Great and Powerful, and 300. Oz and Alice both hailed from Disney and created significant buzz on their debut weekends, in 2010 and 2013 respectively. Both films also happened to feature 3D effects – a box office price advantage that Cinderella lacked.
But as we told you yesterday, Cinderella had one major selling point that is less quantifiable than increased 3D ticket prices. Disney included the short film Frozen Fever before Cinderella screenings this weekend, which added significant star power to the film’s debut. Cate Blanchett may be a formidable actress, but she’s not exactly a draw for very young audiences. Elsa and Olaf, on the other hand? Because Frozen now stands as Disney’s biggest global hit of all time, it’s hard to imagine stronger ambassadors for Cinderella than the stars of that animated phenomenon.
Initial projections for Cinderella were in the $60 million range, which means that it’s current three-day estimate of $70 million represents another coup for Disney. Earlier this week the studio announced that Big Hero 6 now ranks as the highest-grossing animated title of 2014 and the studio’s third-highest global release of all time, with $620 million in worldwide earnings.
Though Cinderella did not reach the level of the Disney’s former March blockbusters Oz the Great and Powerful ($79.1 million) and Alice in Wonderland ($116.1 million), the fairytale did beat Maleficent’s domestic opening. Considering the latter wound up earning over $750 million worldwide last summer, that’s a strong sign in Cinderella’s favor. Of course, nearly 70% of Maleficent’s global total came from international theatres, where Angelina Jolie and 3D effects are still big box office draws. We’ll have to wait and see how well Cinderella plays on the overseas market. Star Lily James will be recognizable to fans of Downton Abbey, but she’s got nowhere near the global star power that Angelina commands.
While Lily James’ star seems to be on the rise, this weekend saw the luster of a much bigger name somewhat diminished. Liam Neeson, who has carved out an impressive niche for himself as a box office badass in the years since Taken hit theatres, suffered a disappointment with this weekend’s Run All Night debut. From 3,171 locations, the R-rated action-thriller earned an estimated $11.1 million. On this top-heavy frame, that was good enough for second place, but it wasn’t even close to the modest $15 million that was expected.
In terms of Neeson features, Run All Night opened lower than A Walk Among the Tombstones, which bottomed out with just $26.3 million in total domestic earnings last September. That was less than Neeson’s Non-Stop earned on its debut weekend alone in February 2014. Taken 3 proved a more successful launch for Neeson this January, but as the fourth action-thriller from the actor in just over a year, there’s apparently a bit of badass-burnout at play here.
Last weekend’s new titles both suffered in their sophomore frames. Last weekend’s top film, Chappie, was down an estimated 56% – just a bit steeper than the drop that Elysium took in its second frame in August 2013. Meanwhile, Vince Vaughn’s Unfinished Business dropped out of the top ten altogether. After ten days, the comedy has yet to break $10 million in North America.
The news was much better for the box office as a whole. Overall domestic earnings reached $132.5 million, or an increase of 16% over the same frame in 2014. Next weekend should deliver another winning frame thanks to Insurgent. The follow-up to last year’s YA hit Divergent hits theatres Friday and is expected to top its predecessor’s $54.6 million debut. Assuming Cinderella also holds well (and its reviews suggest that it will) the two films should be able to overcome the sea of middling box office performers that surround them. As usual, we’ll let you know what happens.
|2.||Run All Night||$11,15,000||$11.1|
|3.||Kingsman: The Secret Service||$6,200,000||$107.3|
|6.||Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel||$5,700,000||$18|
|7.||The SpongeBob Movie||$4,100,000||$154.7|