LOS ANGELES (REUTERS) - Cinderella enchanted audiences this weekend, racking up a royal US$70.1 million to lead the North American box office and US$132 million globally, according to variety.com.
The adaptation of the fairy tale follows Walt Disney Studios' strategy of raiding its animated favourites for live action blockbusters - an approach that led to such prior successes as Maleficent and Alice in Wonderland, and one the studio plans to employ on Dumbo and Beauty and the Beast.
Cinderella's popularity left Liam Neeson's latest action-adventure, Run All Night, huffing and puffing at the finish line. The Warner Bros. release pulled in a lacklustre US$11 million from 3,171 theatres, lower than pre-release tracking which suggested a debut in the US$15 million range. The audience was 52 per cent female and 86 per cent over the age of 25.
It's possible that Neeson, who was recently seen making short work of European bad guys in January's Taken 3, has simply been brandishing the gun a bit too much of late. Run All Night cost US$50 million to produce, so it will need to attract foreign crowds if it wants to break even.
Cinderella opened across 3,845 theatres in North America and cost US$95 million to produce. It couldn't match the US$116.1 million debut of Alice in Wonderland, but it did surpass the US$69.4 million premiere of Maleficent.
That's impressive considering that it lacked a star on the level of Johnny Depp or Angelina Jolie. It also cost a fraction of the roughly US$200 million each that Disney spent producing those fantasies.
Cinderella was a juggernaut overseas picking up an estimated US$62.4 million, US$25 million of which came from China. The film opened in about 60 per cent of the international marketplace, including such major territories as Russia, Italy, Mexico and Germany.
In the holdover realm, Kingsman: The Secret Service has now crossed the US$100 million mark. The Fox action-adventure captured third place with US$6.2 million, pushing its stateside haul to US$107.4 million.
Focus, Will Smith's heist romance, snagged fourth position on the charts with US$5.8 million. The Warner Bros. release has made US$44 million after three weeks in theatres.
Fifth place went to Fox Searchlight's The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel which held steady with US$5.7 million from 2,022 theatres in its sophomore frame, bringing its total to US$18.1 million.
In limited release, Radius-TWC's It Follows impressed with US$163,453 from four locations, for a per-screen average of US$40,863. The horror film has enjoyed unusually strong reviews for the genre, with critics handing out a 95 per cent "fresh" rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
Among other art house releases, Seymour: An Introduction, Ethan Hawke's look at a pianist and teacher debuted on two screens, making US$26,320, for a per-screen average of US$13,160.