For film industry fat cats and struggling movie theater management, the month of March is ordinarily as welcome as EDM at a retirement home. With the awards season long gone, summer blockbusters yet to bloom, and all of our favorite TV shows about to climax, box-office sales plummet. Even the great films released during this uneven time struggle to muster a few return punches.
This year was set to be no different. The worst for 9 years, in fact. But then, like in all good fairytales (albeit less mundane, ones), along came a beautiful princess to save the day.
Her name was Ella. And the ball that she attended, a live-action Cinderella movie, has just proved itself to be latest big winner for Disney’s trend of live action fairytale remakes after topping the US box office on its way to a $132.5m worldwide debut.
Watch the official trailer for Disney's live-action Cinderella below.
Directed by Kenneth Branagh (best known for Thor) and starring Lily James, Richard Madden, Cate Blanchett and Helena Bonham Carter, the movie opened in 3,845 in theaters on Friday after already earning a staggering $2.3 million from the Thursday night previews alone. It took in $70.1 million over the weekend. It’s the sixth-largest March opening of all time and even came out just ahead of Disney's live-action remake of The Sleeping Beauty, Maleficent, which was released last June.
Its success has raised a few eyebrows in Hollywood but it really shouldn't have. Granted, the film stars two relatively low-key British actors transferred from television, but this is a beautiful adaptation of a classic story, perhaps the greatest yet. Lily James' captivating pure-at-heart performance as "Cinderella" epitomizes everything great about it: it's quietly powerful, and elegant in a way Disney films - as great as they are! - rarely manage.
Elsewhere in the world, the movie scored a record-breaking $25 million opening in China, as well as #1 openings in other Asian and Latin American markets.
The film doesn't deviate from the well-known story too much, but where it does, it does so in exactly the right places. As Richard Madden, who stars as the Prince, explained in a recent interview with Collider,
We tried to get rid of that old-fashioned view of things. I love the old animated movie. I think it’s great. But that concept of a woman with a terrible life who needs a man to come and rescue her, doesn’t apply and isn’t something we should probably be teaching kids.
Cinderella could not be more wonderful, as a woman. You’re with her, the whole film. I had to create a guy that was worthy of her affections, and that was difficult.
This was so much more interesting because I had to make a character that’s worthy of being around her and worthy of her affections. So, I made him someone who had a sense of humor and who is aware of his own privilege and who has compassion for everyone around him.
What a great guy. I think everyone involved with the movie deserves all the plaudits that come their way. A resounding Disney success. Again!