'Cinderella' was the belle of Friday's box office ball

Disney's 'Cinderella' grosses estimated $23 million at box offices on Friday to start its opening weekend

It’s apparently true what they say about how advantageous it can be to have a fairy godmother.

Disney’s live-action “Cinderella” lapped the field in Friday's domestic box office returns estimated by Box Office Mojo, raking in $23 million.

“Run All Night,” an action thriller from Warner Bros. starring Liam Neeson, ran a very distant second at $3.9 million.

Cinderella, starring Lily James as the rags-to-royalty heroine and Helena Bonham Carter as the fairy godmother who makes it all possible, is expected to ride its family appeal and enormous, centuries-old cultural footprint to $65 million in its opening weekend. The Friday gross already put it over a third of the way there.

Youngsters have perhaps seen Disney’s 1950 animated version, or had the story read to them in the Brothers Grimm version published in the early 1800s, by which time the tale already was hundreds of years old.

Forecasts that industry insiders base on pre-release audience surveys call for “Run All Night” to reach $15 million in its opening weekend. Neeson plays a hit man struggling to save his son.

“Chappie,” the robot tale from Sony, was last week’s leader with $13.3 million in its opening weekend and $17.6 million for the week. It was sixth on Friday at $1.55 million.

“Focus,” the Warner Bros. vehicle for Will Smith as a con man, placed third Friday at $1.7 million after grossing $10 million last weekend and coming in second to “Chappie.” Overall ticket sales now total $39.9 million.

Fox’s spy thriller, “Kingsman: The Secret Service,” was fourth on Friday at $1.67 million, bringing its overall take to $102.8 milion. “The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel,” from Fox Searchlight, with its cast of British eminences including Judi Dench and Maggie Smith, placed fifth to start the weekend, at an estimated $1.63 million. Its U.S. gross now totals $14 million.

“Cinderella”’s first Friday whirl around the multiplex dance floor drove the day’s overall gross to $37.3 million, up from $21.8 million the previous Friday.

Those who want the story in the flesh can find it starting Tuesday at L.A.’s Ahmanson Theatre, where a touring production of the 1957 Rodgers and Hammerstein “Cinderella” musical opens a run through April 26.

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