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Cinderella dominates global box office and sets Chinese record


Story by Jack Foley

KENNETH Branagh’s live action take on Disney’s Cinderella has dominated the global box office, with a $132.5 million world-wide debut.

The figure also included $70.1 million in the US, where it also took the top spot at the box office, and a record-breaking $25 million in China.

It also marks the biggest opening of Branagh’s career behind the camera – no mean feat given that he also helmed the first Thor movie for the Marvel franchise.

What’s more, the impressive debut for Cinderella continues to give credence to Disney’s idea of remaking its classic animated movies as live action features. Maleficent, a re-telling of Sleeping Beauty told from the point of view of the famous villainess (played by Angelina Jolie), stunned with a $758.4 million global gross.

And Cinderella‘s success was doubly notable in the US because it didn’t boast a star name (Downton Abbey‘s Lily James remains an unknown quantity on the big screen) and wasn’t released in 3D. However, it did have the Frozen short, Frozen Fever, as another big thing in its favour.

Further afield, China’s record breaking debut saw it achieve the highest March opening of all time despite not being in 3D, while Russia, another big 3D market, also impressed with $7.3 million.

Welcoming the figures, Disney distribution chief Dave Hollis said: “The challenge in marketing the movie was that there was no twist, unlike Maleficent or Oz. We were rolling out the quintessential version of the classic story.

“The danger was that people could say, ‘I already know what the story is,’ but the marketing team brought to the market creative materials that did an incredible job of creating a sense of urgency.”

In a further boost to Disney’s fortunes this weekend, its Oscar-winning Big Hero 6 became the top-grossing animated release of 2014 ahead of How To Train Your Dragon 2 ($618.9 million) thanks to a late run in China and other key international markets. It has now earned $632.8 million globally, including $75.8 million in Japan and $66.5 million in China.

While the news was all good for Disney, it wasn’t quite so good for Liam Neeson, whose own latest action vehicle under-performed despite the presence of Robocop‘s Joel Kinnaman and Ed Harris as co-stars.

Run All Night, which sees Neeson playing a former hitman attempting to protect his estranged son from the Mob, opened to $11 million, marking one of the actor’s worst showings of recent years. And this was despite a $50 million budget and better than average reviews for a Neeson action vehicle.

Run All Night opened in second spot, ahead of Kingsman: The Secret Service, which continued to over-perform in third spot with $6.2 million, bringing its US total to a whopping $107.4 million. In total, Matthew Vaughn’s subversive British spy film has now taken $277.3 million world-wide.

The remainder of the US top five will either be comprised of Will Smith’s Focus, dramedy sequel The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel and Neill Blomkamp’s sci-fi latest Chappie. But final positions will need to be worked out on Monday as while most box office experts show Focus and The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel taking fourth and fifth with $5.8 million and $5.7 million respectively, Sony estimates that Chappie has tied with Focus.

Next story: Disney announce Frozen sequel