Disney’s latest live action makeover of a children’s classic, which exceeded expectations with an overwhelmingly female-driven $70 million haul, made up a majority of the weekend Top Ten total. On the other hand, Warner Bros.’ “Run All Night” struggled to an unimpressive $11 million, joining the recent trend of wide release studio flops.
The Top Ten
1. Cinderella (Buena Vista) NEW – Cinemascore: A; Criticwire: B-; Metacritic: 65; Est. budget: $95 million
$70,053,000 in 3,845 theaters; PSA (per screen average); $18,219; Cumulative: $70,053,000
2. Run All Night (Warner Bros.) NEW – Cinemascore: A-; Criticwire: C+; Metacritic: 59; Est. budget: $50 million
$11,015,000 in 3,171 theaters; PSA: $3,474; Cumulative: $11,015,000
3. Kingsman: The Secret Service (20th Century Fox) Week 5 – Last weekend #4
$6,200 (-25%) in 2,635 theaters (-466); PSA: $2,353; Cumulative: $107,373,000
4. Focus (Warner Bros.) Week 3 – Last weekend #2
$5,805,000 (-42%) in 2,855 theaters (-468); PSA: $2,033; Cumulative: $44,032,000
5. Chappie (Sony) Week 2 – Last weekend #1
$5,800,000 (-56%) in 3,201 theaters (unchanged); PSA: $1,812; Cumulative: $23,300,000
6. The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (Fox Searchlight) Week 2 – Last weekend #3
$5,700,000 (-33%) in 2,022 theaters (+449); PSA: $2,819; Cumulative: $18,060,000
7. The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water (Paramount) Week 6 – Last weekend #5
$4,100,000 (-38%) in 2,659 theaters (-438); PSA: $1,542; Cumulative: $154,691,000
8. McFarland, U.S.A. (Buena Vista) Week 4 – Last weekend #7
$3,692,000 (-29%) in 2,455 theaters (-337); PSA: $1,504; Cumulative: $34,974,000
9. American Sniper (Warner Bros.) Week 5 – Last weekend #11
$2,930,000 (-33%) in 2,001 theaters (-544); PSA: $1,464; Cumulative: $341,500,000
10. The DUFF (Lionsgate) Week 4 – Last weekend #9
$2,900,000 (-39%) in 2,301 theaters (-258); PSA: $1,260; Cumulative: $30,317,000
How Does “Cinderella” Compare to Other Disney and Family Releases?
While “Cinderella,” Disney’s latest live-action revamp of favorite fairy tale, didn’t quite reach the level of the studio’s recent hits “Oz: The Great and Powerful,” “Maleficent” and “Alice in Wonderland,” it came much closer than expected. With budgets approaching or over $200 million as well as star and/or director value, those three had higher advance buzz. “Cinderella,” lacking 3D enhancement, seemed a more routine release. But the initial results suggest that this finally could end up near their totals.
The $70 million domestic opening –without a 3D boost — adds to a $62 million international take (much of it from China) and should be bolstered by rolling spring vacation breaks over the upcoming weeks. The precedents among March family openings (“Oz,” “Alice,” “Ice Age: The Meltdown”) suggest it should get to over $200 million, which would make it the biggest grosser among 2015 releases so far. Digging into the daily numbers, its 17% increase yesterday over Friday (the latter included Thursday evening shows actually beat both “Maleficent” and “Alice,” although falling short of “Oz”), so despite not having a typical matinee surge, it’s within expected parameters.
Among 2015 weekends, it ranks as third best (behind “American Sniper”‘s expansion and “Fifty Shades of Grey”). The former will more than quadruple its huge wide start while the latter will almost double its opening.
What Made “Cinderella” Work?
The late 2014-early 2015 box office surge has been mainly fueled by non-family, older audiences and in some cases R-rated releases. The “SpongeBob” sequel took advantage of the post-holiday kids-oriented lull, and little else has appealed to that dependable audience. So throw in the Disney name and their marketing and recent similar successes and “Cinderella” seemed poised to score.
But this seemed to lack a fresh twist on the Cinderella story, which was actually an element in holiday musical “Into the Woods.” Positive brand value seems to have trumped this, as well as its targeted female appeal. In a rare one-sided split, 66% of the ticket buyers were female. Overall 43% were 16 or under, meaning it did get some real interest beyond just parents accompanying kids.
The creative team yielded solid positive reviews, the first of the recent Disney live-action revamps to so do. Director Kenneth Branagh, once considered Laurence Olivier’s heir as an actor/director (he played him in “My Life With Marilyn”) has honed his skills in a surprising range of tentpole films, from “Thor” to “Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit,” all a far cry from his Shakespeare roots with “Henry V” and “Hamlet.” But this has been the best received critically among his recent work. “Cinderella” suggests that Branagh is best at making the familiar seem contemporary and fresh, whether it’s Shakespeare or a fairy tale. And Cate Blanchett as the stepmother was a major asset. Title character Lily James (“Downton Abbey”) proves that Disney doesn’t need a Johnny Depp to carry these projects.
And then there was the secret weapon: the addition of a new “Frozen” short to satisfy rabid fans teased with the official announcement of the sequel last week. Disney may be a factory, but they still know how to capture some of the 1950 animated original’s magic, even if they did dump the music.
Liam Neeson – Why Didn’t “Run All Night” Keep Pace?
Here’s your oddball fact du jour: Warner Bros. reports that the audience for Liam Neeson’s latest action thriller was a slight majority (52%) female. Where has the male audience gone? We’ll see if there is still a pulse early in April when “Furious 7” opens. But what likely made this retread come short of its projected $15 million opening (which would have been below most of its stars’ recent efforts) seems to be men continuing to skip what used to be normal moviegoing patterns, at least domestically. (“Run All Night” added $6.6 million in 19 territories, below the level of the “Taken” films.)
Neeson’s ascension from high-level character actor (“The Phantom Menace,” “Batman Begins,” “Clash of the Titans” ) to becoming a thinking man’s action hero a la Harrison Ford has been an amazing success, particularly internationally. But the “Taken” franchise domestically has gotten stale (the most recent grossed $50 million below the first two) and this, coming two months later, was clearly perceived as same-old same-old. He collaborated with the same director, Jaume Collet-Serra, in last year’s success “Non-Stop,” but its airplane-hostage setting seemed to give that more of a boost than a dad racing to protect his adult son from a diverse group of assassins.
Even with credible casting, too-conventional action films no longer seem to interest the male audience.
The recent above-average showings of most of the holdovers continued, with “Kingsman” still leading the pack with only a 25% drop and actually ending up third, better than fourth last weekend. It has also now passed the $100 million mark. It helps when humor and style are part of the action mix.
“McFarland, U.S.A.” also kept its drop to under 30%, and is now looking like it might quadruple its mediocre opening weekend; score another notch for women directors.
“The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel” was off a third, but it came with a boost in its theater count. Its PSA actually is only a bit better than half than last weekend (though the signs were good during the week; this took the top spot on Thursday). But it’s not holding up to the original (which until the end of its run, even when it lost theaters, fell less than 30%).
Also falling a third, even with a 25% theater loss, and coming back into the Top Ten was “American Sniper.” “The DUFF” and “Focus” fell around 40%. Last week’s two openers both continued their bad luck: “Chappie” was down 56% and “Unfinished Business” off 52%. Not even making the Top Ten means they both will join the burgeoning list of early 2015 male-targeted flops.