'Cinderella' is belle of the box office.

AuthorCoyle, Jake


NEW YORK -- ''Let It Go'' may be Walt Disney's anthem these days, but ''Everything's Coming Up Roses'' might be the more accurate theme song for the Disney juggernaut.

Disney's recent streak continued over the weekend with the $70.1 million North American debut of its traditional, sumptuously costumed fairy tale adaptation ''Cinderella,'' according to studio estimates Sunday. Interest in the film, directed by Kenneth Branagh and starring Lily James of ''Downton Abbey,'' was boosted by a ''Frozen'' short, ''Frozen Fever,'' that played before the feature.

Disney's box-office surge has been propelled partly by the so-called ''halo effect'' of ''Frozen,'' a sequel to which Disney announced last week. But it's also been driven by the appeal of seeing Disney cartoon classics turned into live-action fantasies. ''Cinderella'' follows previous live-action hits like ''Maleficent'' (whose May 2014 debut of $69.4 million ''Cinderella'' narrowly bested) and ''Alice in Wonderland.''

The holiday release ''Into the Woods,'' from the Stephen Sondheim musical, added to the live-action trend, and many more are on the way. ''The Jungle Book,'' "Beauty and the Beast'' and ''Dumbo'' are all coming in live action, as is a sequel to...

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