The movie, a live-action remake of Disney’s classic 1950s animated feature, cost $95 million to make.
The film’s success gives a clear green light to Disney’s plan to remake other animated classics as live-action features. On tap, are a remake of “Dumbo,” the elephant fantasy, and Beauty and the Beast, starring Emma Watson.
Disney has also scored noticeable successes with “Alice in Wonderland” and “Maleficient,” a different take on the fairy tale “Sleeping Beauty.”
The PG-rated film didn’t leave a lot of room for other big-ticket releases this weekend. “Run All Night,” an action-adventure film starring Liam Neeson was a disappointment. It’s expected to gross about $15 million, according to studio estimates. That’s against a $50 million production budget.
Disney took a gamble on “Cinderella,” by going with an actress from England who is relatively unknown in the United States. James is best known for her role in the British mini-series “Downton Abbey.”
But she was radiant on-screen as Cinderella, who transforms into a beautiful princess for a night and escapes her wicked step-mother, play by Cate Blanchett.
Richard Madden played Prince Charming and Helena Bonham Carter played The Fairy Godmother. Disney’s dazzling special effects were also a star.
In contrast, Disney went with big name stars in its other reboots. Angelina Jolie anchored “Maleficent” and Johnny Depp starred as the Mad Hatter in “Alice.”
Those films cost twice as much to make. “Maleficent” grossed $69.4 million in its debut weekend, while “Alice” pulled in $116.1 million.
Rounding out the top five, “Kingsman: The Secret Service” was third with $6.2 million for a total domestic gross of $107.4 million.
Will Smith’s rom-com “Focus,” with Margo Robbie, was fourth with a domestic gross of $5.8 million. The film is a borderline flop after earning only $44 million three weeks after its release.
“The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel” grossed $5.7 million over it’s second weekend for a total domestic gross of $18.1 million.