While Disney's Cinderella may not quite match Oz The Great and Powerful—which opened to $79 million around this same time two years ago—it is still shaping up to be a huge hit. A debut north of $60 million seems very realistic.
Meanwhile, Liam Neeson's Run All Night also opens nationwide this Friday. Don't expect this to wind up on par with past Neeson efforts, though: a result on par with last Fall's A Walk Among the Tombstones wouldn't be surprising.
Opening at 3,845 locations, Cinderella is the latest in Disney's recent spell of live-action fantasy movies. The first was Alice in Wonderland (2010), which remarkably earned over $1 billion worldwide. The next installment wasn't quite as successful: Oz the Great and Powerful took in a mighty $234 million domestically, but a comparatively modest $258 million overseas. Last Summer, Maleficent narrowly topped Oz at the domestic box office, and was also a massive hit internationally ($517 million).
Domestically, all three of those movies opened to at least $69 million, and closed with at least $234 million. Will Cinderella be able to match that?
Its arriving at a time of year that's been really strong for family movies: aside from Alice and Oz, Dr. Seuss' The Lorax also recently opened over $70 million. Cinderella should also benefit a bit from stronger reviews: as of Thursday afternoon, it was sitting at an impressive 85 percent on Rotten Tomatoes. You can't say that for Maleficent, Oz and Alice, which were all rotten (below 60 percent).
Cinderella's secret weapon, of course, is the seven-minute Frozen Fever short that's running ahead of the movie. Frozen earned over $400 million a year ago, and the phenomenon has only grown in the time since then. Cinderella is a perfect fit for this short, as it's also a family-friendly, female-skewing "princess" movie. Disney has done a good job getting the word out about Frozen Fever, and it is absolutely going to translate in to ticket sales this weekend.
The movie does have a few drawbacks, though. Compared to its effects-heavy predecessors, Cinderella looks like a quaint period drama. It also lacks the starpower of the other three: while Cate Blanchett is a bit of an attraction, she doesn't compare to the Oz ensemble, Johnny Depp circa 2010, or Angelina Jolie. Finally, while those other movies were reimaginings, Cinderella looks like (and apparently is) a pretty straightforward retelling of the story. Is that particularly compelling for people already familiar with the animated classic? Maybe not.
The movie is also the first of Disney's recent live-action fantasies that is not being shown in 3D. Family movies haven't had great 3D attendance as of late anyway, but this could still hold down revenue a bit this weekend.
Still, it's a pretty safe bet that Cinderella at least hits $50 million; Fandango is reporting that it's out-selling Maleficent and Oz the Great and Powerful, and Disney is expecting around $60 million.
The domestic box office is only part of the story for Cinderella: the story is recognizable across the entire world, and Disney has done a huge press tour with premieres in around a half-dozen different markets. While it may be premature to predict that this matches Maleficent ($517 million), it's still a safe bet that Cinderella earns at least $300 million outside of the U.S.
Opening at 3,171 locations, Run All Night reunites Liam Neeson with director Jaume Collet-Serra, who previously directed him in Unknown and Non-Stop. The most recent movie, Non-Stop, was a pretty big hit last year: it opened to $28.9 million on its way to $92.2 million total.
Run All Night is vaguely in the same genre—Neeson acts tough and beats up bad guys—but is a different beast in a number of ways. Its rated "R", which restricts its audience a bit. It also doesn't have a particularly strong hook; Neeson and Joel Kinnaman running around New York City doesn't have nearly the same appeal as Non-Stop's mid-air whodunit plot. Along the same lines, Run All Night's trailer-ending money shot isn't in the same league as Non-Stop's. After spending the night in New York City, Neeson winds up in the woods with an antique rifle? While it looks cool, it also feels like it's from a different movie.
There are also some pretty clear signs that Neeson's action brand is fading. In the past seven months, A Walk Among the Tombstones tanked with $26.3 million, while Taken 3 will wind up down at least 35 percent from the previous installment.
Tombstones opened to $12.8 million in September; a debut in a similar range seems likely for Run All Night.
Forecast (March 13-15)
1. Cinderella - $75 million
2. Run All Night - $10 million
3. Kingsman - $6.6 million (-21%)
4. Focus - $6.2 million (-38%)
5. Marigold - $6.1 million (-29%)
6. Chappie - $6 million (-55%)
Bar for Success
Cinderella doesn't quite have to match Maleficent: it's a much more modest production, and will almost certainly have a very strong multiple in the coming weeks. If it matched Snow White and the Huntsman's $56 million, that would be a win.
Last year, Non-Stop opened to $28.9 million; Run All Night ought to be at least hitting $15 million.
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