‘Beauty and the Beast’ roars with mon­strous $170M de­but.

Imperial Valley Press - - FRONT PAGE -

NEW YORK (AP) — Dis­ney’s live-ac­tion “Beauty” was a beast at the box of­fice, open­ing with an estimated $170 mil­lion in North Amer­i­can ticket sales and set­ting a new high mark for fam­ily movies.

“Beauty and the Beast” blew past the pre­vi­ous record-holder for G- or PG-rated re­leases, ac­cord­ing to stu­dio es­ti­mates Sun­day. Last year, Dis­ney’s “Find­ing Dory” de­buted with a then-PG-best $135 mil­lion.

“Beauty and the Beast” felled many other records, too. It’s the year’s top open­ing so far and a new best for March re­leases, and it ranks sev­enth all­time, not ac­count­ing for in­fla­tion.

The film, made for about $160 mil­lion, is the lat­est ef­fort by Dis­ney to re-cre­ate one of its an­i­mated classics with live ac­tion and dig­i­tal ef­fects. The makeover of the 1991 Os­car-win­ning film fol­lows pre­vi­ous live-ac­tion re­makes such as “Al­ice in Won­der­land,” “Cin­derella,” “Malef­i­cent” and last year’s “The Jun­gle Book.” Many more are on the way, too, in­clud­ing those for “Dumbo,” “Mu­lan,” “Aladdin” and “The Lion King.”

“Nos­tal­gia is a very pow­er­ful driver for th­ese films,” said Dave Hol­lis, head of dis­tri­bu­tion for Dis­ney. “What’s ex­cit­ing here is there is an op­por­tu­nity to see th­ese beloved sto­ries in a way that’s never been seen be­fore, but you get to build that on the foun­da­tion of some­thing that’s very fa­mil­iar.

“But you don’t get to $170 mil­lion be­cause of nos­tal­gia,” Hol­lis added. “You have to ul­ti­mately make th­ese movies great.”

“Beauty and the Beast,” di­rected by Bill Con­don and star­ring Emma Wat­son and Dan Stevens, found wide­spread ac­claim and some back­lash for in­clud­ing what has been called Dis­ney’s first openly gay char­ac­ter. Josh Gad plays Gas­ton’s side­kick, LeFou, who has a very brief “ex­clu­sively gay mo­ment,” as Con­don de­scribed it, late in the film.

Though many ap­plauded the char­ac­ter’s sub­tle twist as over­due progress, some de­rided it. An Alabama drive-in the­ater can­celed show­ings be­fore own­ers screened the film. And after Malaysian cen­sors re­quired an edit of the scene, Dis­ney pulled the film from re­lease in the pre­dom­i­nantly Mus­lim na­tion.

An ap­peal is to be heard this week.

None of that dragged down the movie’s mas­sive open­ing. It took in $180 mil­lion overseas, in­clud­ing $44.8 mil­lion in China, Dis­ney said.

Paul Der­garabe­dian, se­nior me­dia an­a­lyst for Coms­core, said any back­lash may have only helped “Beauty and the Beast,” which he pre­dicts will even­tu­ally top $1 bil­lion glob­ally.

“As quote-un­quote con­tro­ver­sies go, this was a real tem­pest in a teapot,” Der­garabe­dian said. “This ob­vi­ously had zero im­pact on the movie. In fact, those who raise aware­ness of a movie for what­ever rea­son are gen­er­ally only help­ing that movie do bet­ter busi­ness. I don’t think that was go­ing to dis­suade any­one except the most nar­row-minded from see­ing this film.”

“Beauty and the Beast,” fea­tur­ing the songs by Alan Menken and Howard Ash­man, also got a boost from good word-of-mouth and largely good re­views.

Other stu­dios stayed clear of the Dis­ney jug­ger­naut. Last week’s top film, Warner Bros.’ “Kong: Skull Is­land,” slid to sec­ond place with $28.9 mil­lion in its sec­ond week. The King Kong re­launch has thus far earned $110.1 mil­lion do­mes­ti­cally.

Fox’s R-rated “X-Men” spinoff “Lo­gan,” star­ring Hugh Jack­man, added $17.5 mil­lion in its third week to bring its to­tal to $184 mil­lion. With “Lo­gan” in third place, the hor­ror sen­sa­tion “Get Out” slid to fourth and con­tin­ued to drive au­di­ences. The Jor­dan Peele di­rec­to­rial de­but, from Univer­sal Pic­tures and Blum­house, earned $13.3 mil­lion, mak­ing its four-week to­tal $133.1 mil­lion.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.