Cinderella is a 2015 American romantic fantasy film directed by Kenneth Branagh, from a screenplay written by Chris Weitz. Produced by David Barron, Simon Kinberg and Allison Shearmur for Walt Disney Pictures, the story is based on Charles Perrault‘s eponymous fairy tale. Although not a direct remake, the film borrows many elements from Walt Disney‘s 1950 animated musical film of the same name. The film stars Lily James as Ella (“Cinderella”), Cate Blanchett as Lady Tremaine (the Wicked Stepmother), Richard Madden as Prince Charming, Sophie McShera as Drisella, Holliday Grainger as Anastasia and Helena Bonham Carter as the Fairy Godmother.
Cinderella had its world premiere on February 13, 2015, at the 65th Berlin International Film Festival. It was released on March 13, 2015. Upon release, the film was a critical and commercial success, grossing over $513 million at the worldwide box office.
Ella lives with her wealthy parents on a beautiful estate in a peaceful kingdom. From a young age, she is taught by her mother to believe in the existence of magic, allowing her to befriend many animals on the estate, particularly the mice. Everything is perfect until her mother contracts an illness and dies. On her deathbed, she makes Ella promise that she will always have courage and show kindness to others. Years later, her father marries Lady Tremaine, the widow of an old acquaintance, who has two daughters: Drisella and Anastasia. Ella welcomes her stepfamily, despite the stepsisters’ unpleasant attitudes and her need to protect her mouse friends from her stepmother’s cat, Lucifer.
Soon after, Ella’s father goes abroad on business, promising his stepdaughters gifts of luxury. His own daughter merely asks for the first branch to brush against his shoulder on the way. While he is gone, Lady Tremaine begins to gradually reveal her true cold, cruel and jealous nature, persuading Ella to sleep in the attic and let Drisella and Anastasia have her room. Soon they receive word that Ella’s father has fallen ill and died. Desperate for money, Lady Tremaine dismisses the servants and forces Ella to do all their work; later she refuses to let Ella eat with the family. One cold evening, Ella sleeps by the fireplace for warmth. The next day, she rises with her face covered in cinders. Her stepsisters consequently mock her as “Cinderella” – a taunt in which Lady Tremaine also joins.
Crushed by her stepfamily’s cruelty, Ella goes for a ride into the woods, where she encounters a hunting party in pursuit of a stag. She meets one of the hunters, who claims to be an apprentice named Kit who lives in the palace. Unknown to her, he is actually the only son of the land’s dying king. Despite never learning her name, Kit (a nickname given to him by his father) is enchanted by Ella’s charm, kindness, and unique outlook on life and becomes infatuated with her. On learning that he has little time left, the King insists that Kit find a bride at an upcoming ball. Although Kit is required to marry a princess, he can’t get over the mystery girl, and he persuades his father to let every eligible maiden in the land attend.
When the ball is announced, the Tremaine family is ecstatic at the prospect of marrying into royalty. However, when Lady Tremaine refuses to buy Ella a new dress, Ella fixes up an old pink dress of her mother’s with help from the mice. On the night of the ball, Ella tries to join her stepfamily on the way out. Lady Tremaine, claiming that her mere presence will disgrace them, goads her daughters into helping her rip up the dress before leaving without her. Ella runs into the garden in tears, where she encounters an old beggar woman, who reveals herself to be her fairy godmother. She uses her magic to reveal her true form and subsequently to turn a pumpkin into a magnificent carriage, four mice into horses, two lizards into footmen, and a goose into a coachman. She then transforms Ella’s dress into a gorgeous blue gown, complete with a delicate pair of glass slippers before sending her on her way with the warning that the spell only lasts until midnight.
At the ball, the entire court is entranced by Ella, especially Kit. She wins the coveted first dance with him, whose true identity she is pleasantly surprised to learn. This irritates the Grand Duke, who secretly promised Kit to a specific princess—a fact that Lady Tremaine overhears. After dancing, Ella and Kit tour the palace and grounds together. But before he can learn her name, the clock begins to strike twelve, forcing her to flee and accidentally drop one of her glass shoes at the palace stairs in the process. She manages to get away before the stroke of midnight and hides the other shoe in her room as a memento, reasonably content that her one night will become a beautiful memory.
Soon after, the King dies, but not before giving his son permission to find the girl and marry her if he wishes. After Kit becomes king, he has it announced that every maiden in the kingdom is to try on the shoe. Ella goes to her room to get the other shoe, only to find her stepmother waiting with it in her hand. Lady Tremaine has deduced that Ella is the mystery maiden. She demands to be made the head of the royal household if Ella marries Kit. She also demands that Ella ensure that Drisella and Anastasia get proper husbands as well. Ella refuses, so Lady Tremaine smashes the shoe and locks her in the attic. She then brings the shattered shoe and identity of the mystery girl to the Grand Duke and blackmails him into rewarding her with the title of countess and advantageous marriages for her daughters. The Duke takes the shattered shoe to Kit, hoping to persuade him to forget the mystery girl, but this makes Kit more determined than ever to find her.
The Grand Duke and the captain of the guards lead a mission to try the remaining shoe on all the maidens in the land, but it fits none of them. When they arrive at the Tremaine estate, the shoe fits neither of the stepsisters. The officers turn to leave, only to hear Ella singing (“Lavender’s Blue“) through a window that the mice opened for that purpose. The Grand Duke tries to leave anyway, but one of the men reveals himself to be Kit in disguise and demands that the captain investigate the sound. Once Ella is found, Lady Tremaine forbids her to try on the shoe on the grounds that she is Ella’s mother, but is overruled by the captain. Ella then curtly tells Lady Tremaine that she is not, and never has been, her mother. She and Kit are finally reunited. Kit recognizes Ella even without the shoe, which fits perfectly. The Grand Duke and the stepsisters plead for forgiveness. Ella leaves with Kit after forgiving her stepmother, who leaves the kingdom soon after with her daughters and the Grand Duke.
At the wedding, Kit and Ella are crowned as the new king and queen. The Fairy Godmother narrates that they become the land’s most beloved monarchs, ruling with the courage and kindness that Ella had promised her mother, and they live happily ever after.
- Lily James as Ella (“Cinderella“)
- Eloise Webb as young Ella
- Cate Blanchett as Lady Tremaine
- Richard Madden as Prince “Kit” Charming
- Helena Bonham Carter as The Fairy Godmother
- Sophie McShera as Drisella
- Holliday Grainger as Anastasia
- Nonso Anozie as Captain
- Derek Jacobi as The King
- Stellan Skarsgård as The Grand Duke
- Hayley Atwell as Cinderella’s Mother
- Ben Chaplin as Cinderella’s Father
There are numerous ancient myths and stories containing Cinderella motifs, dating as far back as an Egyptian tale from the first century BC. The modern version of Cinderella was created by French author Charles Perrault, whose fairy tale was first published in 1697. It has since been the basis of and inspiration behind innumerable operas, ballet, plays and films. The first film version was seven minutes long, directed by George Méliès in France in 1899. The first Hollywood adaptation was Paramount Pictures‘ 1914 silent film, starring Mary Pickford in the title role. Disney’s classic animated version of Cinderella was released in 1950. It was a major box office success, and in 2008 was named the ninth-greatest animated film of all time by the American Film Institute. Other modern films based on the Cinderella concept include The Slipper and the Rose (1976), Ever After (1998) and A Cinderella Story (2004).
In May 2010, following the box office success of Tim Burton‘s Alice in Wonderland, which was the second-highest grossing film of 2010 and earned over $1 billion at the box office worldwide, Walt Disney Pictures began developing a new film adaptation of Cinderella, commissioning a live-action reimagining based on a script by Aline Brosh McKenna and produced by Simon Kinberg. In August 2011, Mark Romanek was brought on to direct. On February 29, 2012, it was announced that Chris Weitz would revise McKenna’s script. In January 2013, Romanek left the project due to creative differences, as he was developing a version that was darker than Disney wanted. Later that month, Disney negotiated with Kenneth Branagh to take over as director.
Cate Blanchett was the first actor to sign on, when it was announced in November 2012 that she would be playing Lady Tremaine. In March 2013, Emma Watson was in talks to portray Cinderella, but a deal could not be worked out. Gabriella Wilde, Saoirse Ronan, Alicia Vikander, Bella Heathcote and Margot Robbie were also considered for the part, but deals could not be worked out due to scheduling and other conflicts.
On April 30, 2013, Lily James was cast as the title character. A week later, Richard Madden was cast as the Prince. In June 2013, it was reported that Holliday Grainger and Sophie McShera joined the film as the mean stepsisters, Anastasia and Drisella. Later that month, Helena Bonham Carter was cast as the Fairy Godmother. In August 2013, Hayley Atwell joined the cast to play Cinderella’s mother. In September 2013, Stellan Skarsgård‘s role as the Grand Duke was confirmed. On September 23, 2013, it was announced that Derek Jacobi was cast as the King and Nonso Anozie as the Captain, a loyal friend to the Prince.
Three-time Oscar-winning costume designer Sandy Powell was in charge of the costumes for the film. Powell began working on concepts for the characters’ looks almost two years before principal photography began in the summer of 2013. Powell said she was aiming for the look of “a nineteenth-century period film made in the 1940s or 1950s.”
For the stepmother and stepsisters, Powell had a very clear idea about the look; “They are meant to be totally ridiculous on the outside—a bit too much and overdone—and ugly on the inside.” The silhouette of the prince came from the original animation, however she created a more fitted look and less masculine colors. Some of the prince costumes were dyed to accentuate Madden’s eyes.
The ball gown was inspired by the Disney animated film in its color and shape; “The gown had to look lovely when she dances and runs away from the ball. I wanted her to look like she was floating, like a watercolor painting.” The dress was made with more than a dozen fine layers of fabric, a corset and a petticoat. Nine versions of the Cinderella gown were designed, each with more than 270 yards of fabric and 10.000 crystals. It took 18 tailors and 500 hours to make each dress.
The wedding dress was another difficult project. “Creating the wedding dress was a challenge. Rather than try to make something even better than the ball gown, I had to do something completely different and simple… I wanted the whole effect to be ephemeral and fine, so we went with an extreme-lined shaped bodice with a long train”, said Powell. It took 16 people and 550 hours to complete the silk-organza, hand painted dress. While the crew photographed James in the gown, the actress stood too close to an electric heater and the dress caught on fire; the top layer of the dress had to be redone because only one wedding dress was created due to time and budget constraints.
For the glass slipper, Powell took inspiration from a 1950s shoe she saw in a museum. Since glass does not sparkle, they decided to use crystal instead. Swarovski partnered with Disney to make the famous shoe. Powell went directly to Swarovski headquarters in Austria to meet the product developers. It took 6 digital renderings of the shoes until they found the right one for the film. Swarovski made eight pairs of crystal shoes for the film, though none were actually wearable. Consequently, the leather shoes James wore on set had to be digitally altered into crystal. Alongside the slipper, Swarovski provided more than 7 million crystals that were used in costumes and 100 tiaras for the ball scene.
Principal photography on Cinderella began on September 23, 2013. The film was shot at Pinewood Studios in Buckinghamshire, England, where Disney’s Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides and Maleficent were also filmed, and at various other locations including Blenheim Palace, Windsor Castle, Old Royal Naval College and Black Park.
|Cinderella (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)|
|Film score by Patrick Doyle|
|Released||March 10, 2015|
|Recorded||Air Lyndhurst Studios (London)|
|Patrick Doyle chronology|
On June 7, 2013, news confirmed that composer Patrick Doyle would score the film, with the music having an emphasis on romance. Doyle has previously scored several Branagh films, including Hamlet and Thor. He has also scored the Disney·Pixar computer-animated fantasy film Brave. Doyle recorded the film’s score with the London Symphony Orchestra at the Air Lyndhurst Studios in London.
- Track listing
All music composed by Patrick Doyle (Tracks 1–27).
The film had its world premiere on February 13, 2015 at the 65th Berlin International Film Festival, and was released on March 13, 2015. Theatrically, it is accompanied by Walt Disney Animation Studios‘ short film Frozen Fever, featuring the characters from Frozen. On February 10, 2015, IMAX Corporation and Disney announced plans to digitally re-master the film into the IMAX format and release it in IMAX theaters globally on the scheduled release date.
The first official presentation of the film occurred at Disney’s three-day D23 Expo in August 2013. The film was previewed at CinemaCon in Las Vegas, Nevada, in March 2014, with a teaser showing Cinderella hearing about her father’s death, meeting the prince while riding through the forest, her mother’s ball gown being torn apart by her step-family, and a comedic bit where the Fairy Godmother transforms a pumpkin into a carriage.
The first official trailer debuted on May 15, 2014. In the minute-long teaser, which doesn’t include any footage from the film, a sparkling glass slipper is slowly revealed over a black background. The second official trailer, two-and-a-half minutes long and containing footage from the film, debuted on Good Morning America on November 19, 2014, with a 15-second trailer preview released two days prior. In its first 24 hours of release, the trailer was viewed 4.2 million times on YouTube and 33 million times on Facebook, the highest views among all Disney films in history, except for Marvel Studios releases. The movie’s official poster was also released on November 19, featuring James as Cinderella and photographed by Annie Leibovitz. Disney released an international trailer on December 16, 2014. A new trailer was released on January 1, 2015. On February 11, 2015, Disney released a final trailer for the film.
In October 2014, a licensing agreement between Disney and Turner Broadcasting was announced, in which Cinderella would premiere across Turner’s cable network portfolio (including TBS and TNT) in Spring 2017.
As of May 10, 2015, Cinderella has grossed $196.3 million in North America and $316.9 million in other territories for a worldwide total of $513.2 million, against a budget of $95 million. It had a worldwide opening of $131.5 million, and an IMAX opening of $9 million.
In the U.S. and Canada, Cinderella opened on Friday, March 13, 2015, across 3,845 theaters, and earned $23 million. The film’s Friday gross included a $2.3 million late night run. It topped the box office during its opening weekend as projected, earning $67.9 million, including a record $5 million from 358 IMAX theaters, and became Disney’s biggest 2D PG-rated opening of all time. It is director Kenneth Branagh’s biggest opening of his career (breaking 2011’s Thor record), the fourth-highest Disney opening in March, and the seventh-highest opening in March overall (not counting for inflation). Audiences during its opening weekend comprised 66% female, 66% families, 26% adults, 8% teenagers, 31% under the age of 12 and 9% 50 years and older. Cinderella finished its first week at the box office with $87.55 million, which was very high end of the film’s lofty pre-release expectations. On its second weekend, the film declined 49% to $35 million. The drop was in between two of Disney’s previous live-action fantasy films, Oz the Great and Powerful (48%) and Maleficent (51%).
Outside North America, box office analysts predicted as much as $60 million opening. The film made its debut outside of North America on the same weekend as its wide North American release and earned an estimated $62.4 million from 31 countries, including $4 million from IMAX theaters. It topped the box office for two non-consecutive weekends. It opened in China with $25 million, the biggest March opening in the country, and Russia with $7.3 million. The opening in these two countries were considered impressive given that both the countries are famous for their keenness for 3D films rather than 2D. Other high openings occurred in the UK, Ireland and Malta ($5.6 million), Mexico ($5 million), Japan ($4.8 million), France ($3.3 million), and Brazil ($3.7 million). In Australia, where the release date was coinciding with the Cricket World Cup finale, it managed to open with $3.4 million. Italy opened with $4.6 million and topped the box office for three consecutive weekends. It became the second-highest grossing Disney live-action film in China, behind Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides and in the Philippines, behind Maleficent. In total earnings, its largest markets outside of the US and Canada are China ($71.1 million), the UK, Ireland and Malta ($29.2 million), Japan ($21.6 million), Italy and Australia ($16.5 million each), Brazil ($15.5 million), and Mexico ($15.4 million).
Cinderella received generally positive reviews from critics. Praise was aimed at the performances, particularly those of Blanchett, Bonham Carter and James, the direction, visuals, and its faithfulness to the spirit and magic of the original Disney animated classic. On the review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an 84% approval rating, based on 193 reviews, with an average rating of 7.2/10. The site’s critical consensus reads, “Refreshingly traditional in a revisionist era, Kenneth Branagh’s Cinderella proves Disney hasn’t lost any of its old-fashioned magic.” Metacritic assigned the film a weighted average score of 67 out of 100, based on 47 critics, indicating “generally favorable reviews”. In CinemaScore polls conducted during the opening weekend, audiences under the age of 18 gave the film an A, aged 18–24 an A-, aged 25–34 an A, and aged 35 and up an A+, on a scale of A+ to F.
David Rooney of The Hollywood Reporter reviewed the film at the Berlin Film Festival and praised the special effects, screenplay and Blanchett’s performance and said that “anyone nostalgic for childhood dreams of transformation will find something to enjoy in an uplifting movie that invests warm sentiment in universal themes of loss and resilience, experience and maturity.” Peter Debruge of Variety said, “It’s all a bit square, big on charm, but lacking the crackle of Enchanted or The Princess Bride. But though this Cinderella could never replace Disney’s animated classic, it’s no ugly stepsister either, but a deserving companion.” Guy Lodge of The Guardian gave the film three stars out of five and said, “While it might have been nice to see the new-model Cinderella follow Frozen ’s progressive, quasi-feminist lead, the film’s naff, preserved-in-amber romanticism is its very charm.” Scott Mendelson of Forbes admired the film’s visual effects, production design, and called the costume design as Oscar-worthy, adding, “with an emphasis on empathy and empowerment, Walt Disney’s Cinderella is the best film yet in their ‘turn our animated classics into live-action blockbuster’ subgenre.”
Richard Corliss of Time said that Branagh’s Cinderella successfully updates and revitalizes Disney’s “ill-conceived” animated film, and praised the empowered Ella, the visuals, and Blanchett’s performance. Katy Waldman of Slate similarly deemed the film a commendable and authentic upgrade that does not undermine its heroine while maintaining its classic splendor and charm. Joe Morgenstern of The Wall Street Journal commended James’ and Blanchett’s performances, the sets, costumes and minimal digital effects, as well as Branagh’s direction, stating he “set a tone of lushly sustainable fantasy that’s often affecting, frequently witty, seldom cloying, nearly free of self-comment and entirely free of irony.” Likewise, Claudia Puig of USA Today complimented the performances along with Branagh and screenwriter Chris Weitz for “ground[ing] this romantic tale with sincerity amid the dazzle.” Los Angeles Times ’ Betsy Sharkey praised Blanchett’s and James’ performances and considered the film a “poetically, if not prophetically, imagined storybook fable” that succeeds because of its earnestness, humor, its lack of modern-day pretenses, and Branagh’s “singular focus”. Lawrence Toppman of The Charlotte Observer proclaimed, “This version has more psychological depth than usual and answers questions we may always have had. Branagh’s ‘Cinderella’ does something extraordinarily rare among fairy-tale adaptations: It leaves out nothing we want and adds nothing we don’t.” Noting the religious themes and symbols of the film, cultural commentator Fr. Robert Barron writes that due to Branagh’s traditional telling of the story, “he actually allows the spiritual — indeed specifically Christian — character of the tale to emerge.”
With the success of Cinderella and Maleficent (and with Alice in Wonderland: Through the Looking Glass being released in 2016), Disney has announced the development of several other live-action remakes from their Animated Classics series. Since the releases of these two films, Disney has announced the development of live-action adaptations of Beauty and the Beast, Mulan, Dumbo, Winnie the Pooh, and Pinocchio.
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With the recent release of “Maleficent,” which grossed more than $170 million worldwide in its opening weekend, Disney is working fast on its next live-action fairy-tale adaptation.
- “Emma Watson Is Joining Disney’s Live-Action Beauty And The Beast, Get The Details”. Retrieved April 10, 2015.
- “‘Mulan’ Live-Action Movie Being Developed by Disney”. Retrieved April 10, 2015.
- “Tim Burton to Direct Live-Action ‘Dumbo’ for Disney”. Retrieved April 10, 2015.
- “Disney developing live-action adaptation of Winnie the Pooh”. Retrieved April 10, 2015.
- “‘Pinocchio’-Inspired Live-Action Film Being Developed At Disney”. Retrieved April 10, 2015.
- Official website
- Cinderella at the Internet Movie Database
- Cinderella at Box Office Mojo
- Cinderella at Rotten Tomatoes
- Cinderella at Metacritic
- Cinderella Editorial Music Presentation at West Coast Midnight Run