The Disney juggernaut scores again, with its latest iteration of a childhood classic singlehandedly reversing the recent box office slump as the live-action “Cinderella” grossed $23 million its initial day (including strong Thursday night shows). This is how dominant it was — the rest of the Top Ten combined only totaled $16 million. The result is a $39 million take that outdid the same Friday last year (which featured openers “Need for Speed” and “Mr. Peabody and Sherman” and holdover “300: Rise of an Empire) by $9 million.
This is a very encouraging result that marks an early start to a highly touted slate of tentpole releases, starting ever earlier leading into the summer. (“Insurgent,” “Get Hard” and “Furious 7” over the next three weeks, should they keep up this pace, could provide strong evidence that a real surge is happening.) What makes “Cinderella” particularly encouraging is that its gross is only a bit more than $1 million behind “Maleficent” and its first day result. That edgier story featured Angelina Jolie (rather than “Downton Abbey”‘s Lily James) and opened in late May, with a majority of schools already on vacation, so coming in so close is a triumph so far for Disney. It is also the same amount behind the initial day of “Oz: The Great and Powerful” but far behind “Alice in Wonderland” (which debuted to $40 million), both also March openers. But those two more expensive projects were star-driven and more touted in advance, so there’s no reason to reason to complain.
The second opener, “Run All Night” (Warner Bros.), another Liam Neeson action thriller, fell far short of the starts of his “Taken” films as well as “Non-Stop,” the last also from Spanish director Jaume Collet-Serra. With a little shy of $3.9 million and second place, it is 60% below their previous collaboration’s opening day. Though this could score as an international success, once again, another male-oriented project with solid elements failed to cause much of a stir with domestic audiences.
That same demographic turned its back big time on last week’s top film, Neill Blomkamp’s “Chappie” (Sony), which saw an ugly drop to sixth, almost two-thirds down and under $1.6 million. Holding better and closely bunched in third to fifth, all between $1.6 and 1.7 million, are in order “Focus” (Warner Bros.), “Kingsman: The Secret Service” (20th Century Fox) and “The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel” (Fox Searchlight). These likely see their order reshuffled for the three-day totals, though none will do over $6 million, showing that other than “Cinderella” nothing is on fire at the moment.
The rest of the list either barely topped $1 million or fell just short: “McFarland, U.S.A.” (Buena Vista), “The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water” (Paramount) and “The DUFF” (Lionsgate) holding well though at mediocre levels, while the quickly fading “50 Shades of Grey” (Universal) still hangs on in tenth–by far it’s the biggest release of 2015.