Box Office: ‘Cinderella’ Eyes Royal Opening of $60 Million

Cinderella” finds her prince and the box office rediscovers its mojo in what is shaping up to be a strong weekend for the movie business.

Walt Disney Studios has had success of late raiding its catalog of animated hits and giving them a live-action spin. “Alice in Wonderland” with Johnny Depp made $1 billion and “Maleficent” bolstered by Angelina Jolie earned $758.4 million.

Cinderella,” which stars Oscar winner Cate Blanchett as the evil stepmother and Lily James as the one-heeled heroine, looks likely to keep the momentum going when it opens to roughly $60 million. That’s a good thing for Disney given that it’s planning similar reboots of “Dumbo” and “Beauty and the Beast.”

“Cinderella’s” main competition will come from Liam Neeson’s “Run All Night,” which finds the “Taken” star back in his action sweet spot and should pick up $15 million when it premieres in approximately 3,150 locations. The film centers on a mob enforcer who must protect his son (Joel Kinnaman) after he witnesses a murder. It’s backed by Warner Bros. and was produced for $50 million. The film could be the default option for males, but it will have trouble matching the recent debuts of such Neeson-driven action films as “Non-Stop”($28.9 million) and “Taken 3″($39.2 million).

Both films will reinvigorate the box office after a series of new releases such as “Chappie” and “Focus” failed to stir audiences. Overall ticket sales should eclipse the $114 million generated in the year-ago period, a weekend that saw “Mr. Peabody and Sherman,” “300: Rise of an Empire” and “Need for Speed” capture the top three spots on the chart. There’s more help on the way. “Insurgent,” the sequel to “Divergent,” hits theaters on March 20, which should provide a nice influx of tween viewers.

“Cinderella” will bow in 3,845 theaters, 358 of which will be Imax and 337 of which will be premium large format, allowing exhibitors to charge a premium for seats to the ball. “Cinderella” will also have a big international rollout, premiering in about 60% of the territories where it will screen. Those include such heavy-hitting markets as China, Russia, Mexico, Italy and Germany.

“Cinderella” lacks the star power of Disney’s earlier fairy tale films, but it has economics on its side. The picture was filmed for $95 million, much less than “Alice” and “Maleficent,” both of which hovered around the $200 million mark in production expenses.

Disney is touting the fact that “Cinderella” will debut while roughly 20% of U.S. schoolchildren are on spring vacation, which should help it become a default entertainment option for harried parents.

Among last week’s crop of newcomers, “Chappie” should see its ticket sales cut in half, ending the weekend with roughly $7 million, while “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel” should hold steady at around $7 million after adding hundreds of more locations.

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