Disney's 'Cinderella' taps grown women and their purchasing power

Wed Mar 11, 2015 3:27pm EDT
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By Piya Sinha-Roy

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Fairy tales and frothy princess gowns might be the perfect draw for kids, but with Walt Disney Co.'s retelling of the "Cinderella" story, the grown-ups might find themselves doing the fantasizing.

British director Kenneth Branagh has taken the fairy tale that Disney's 1950 animated film made famous and turned it into a live-action spectacle. Stars include Lily James as Cinderella, Richard Madden as her Prince Charming and Oscar winner Cate Blanchett as the glamorous, wicked stepmother.

Opening Friday, the film could top the U.S. and Canadian box office in its opening weekend with $64 million, according to Boxoffice.com. But Disney will also spin revenue from adult-focused merchandise, including high heels inspired by the glass slipper.

Branagh said he wanted to bring Cinderella into the 21st century with woman power.

"She's not a victim; she's not passive," he told Reuters. "She's a strong woman, but her generosity of spirit is an inspiring thing."

At a recent screening, Cinderella's sojourn elicited sighs and tears from the predominantly female audience, something that Branagh said reflects demand for more movies that appeal to women.

"The female audience across all ages for movies, they drive moviegoing," Branagh said. "Why shouldn't they see stuff that somehow reflects them?"

The film closely follows the classic tale of the orphaned girl bullied by her stepmother and stepsisters.   Continued...

Cast member Lily James poses at the premiere of "Cinderella" at El Capitan theatre in Hollywood, California March 1, 2015.  REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni