‘ Beauty and the Beast’ roars to No. 1

Fam­i­lies were very friendly to live- ac­tion re­make

USA TODAY International Edition - - LIFE - Jake Coyle

NEW YORK 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 Gor PG- rated re­leases, ac­cord­ing to stu­dio es­ti­mates Sun­day.

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 for all time, 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. The makeover of the 1991 Os­car­win­ning film fol­lows pre­vi­ous live- ac­tion re­makes such as Al­ice in Won­der­land, Cin­derella, Malef­i­cent and The Jun­gle Book. Many more are on the way, too, in­clud­ing Dumbo, Mu­lan, Aladdin and The Lion King.

“Nos­tal­gia is a very pow­er­ful driver for th­ese films,” says Dave Hol­lis, Dis­ney’s head of dis­tri­bu­tion.

Beauty and the Beast, star­ring Emma Wat­son and Dan Stevens, found 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 di­rec­tor Bill 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. And after Malaysian cen­sors re­quired the scene be edited, Dis­ney pulled the film from re­lease there.

None of that dragged down the movie’s mas­sive open­ing. It took in $ 180 mil­lion overseas.

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

“This was a real tem­pest in a teapot,” Der­garabe­dian says.”

Last week’s top film, Kong: Skull Is­land, slid to sec­ond place with $ 28.9 mil­lion.

The R- rated X- Men spinoff Lo­gan, star­ring Hugh Jack­man, added $ 17.5 mil­lion for third place. Jor­dan Peele’s hor­ror flick Get Out slid to fourth with $ 13.3 mil­lion. Faith- based film The Shack fin­ished fifth with $ 6.1 mil­lion.

Fi­nal fig­ures are ex­pected Mon­day.

DIS­NEY

Box of­fice magic to the tune of $ 170 mil­lion was in the air for Emma Wat­son, Dan Stevens and Beauty and the Beast.

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