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

'Beauty and the Beast' roars with monstrous $170M debut

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 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 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 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 theatrecancelled 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.

The only film that tried to open nationwide against “Beauty and the Beast” was the micro-budget horror release “The Belko Experiment,” from Blumhouse Pictures. It earned $4.1 million in 1,341 theatres (or about a third the theatres “Beauty” played in).

Danny Boyle’s “Trainspotting” sequel, “T2: Trainspotting,” from Sony Pictures debuted in five theatres in New York and Los Angeles, earning $180,000 for a strong per-theatre average of $36,000. The sequel to the much-loved 1996 original, which later expands nationwide, has already made more than $20 million in the U.K.

Estimated ticket sales for Friday through Sunday at U.S. and Canadian theatres, according to comScore. Where available, the latest international numbers also are included. Final domestic figures will be released Monday.

1. “Beauty and the Beast,” $170 million ($180 million international).

2. “Kong: Skull Island,” $28.9 million.

3. “Logan,” $17.5 million.

4. “Get Out,” $13.3 million.

5. “The Shack,” $6.1 million.

6. “The Lego Batman Movie,” $4.7 million.

7. “The Belko Experiment,” $4.1 million.

8. “Hidden Figures,” $1.5 million.

9. “John Wick: Chapter Two,” $1.2 million.

10. “Before I Fall,” $1 million.

___

Follow AP Film Writer Jake Coyle on Twitter at: http://twitter.com/jakecoyleAP .

Jake Coyle, The Associated Press

Just Posted

VIDEO: Neighbours fought to extinguish Langley house fire

Firefighters arrived to find citizens dousing a blaze climbing through the walls of a Langley home.

Dear Santa: the Langley Advance presents local children’s letters to the jolly old elf

During the holidays, the Langley Advance will present letters to Santa. Here is the first selection.

#MeToo at work: Employers play a role in fixing culture of harassment

B.C. workplaces are getting ahead of being the next MeToo debacle, calling on experts to train staff

VIDEO: Hankering for a piece of Star Wars?

A massive Star Wars memorabilia collection is going on the auction block in Langley.

Car fire destroys vehicle in Langley

Firefighters doused a car fire that sent a lot of smoke into the air in Langley.

VIDEO: Recovering addict shares art and story to motivate others

A Langley City man spends time each day painting in McBurney Plaza.

Kamloops RCMP warning public to stay away from unfolding domestic dispute

The public is being asked to avoid Sabiston Creek Road off of the highway

Owl found dead after eating rat poison leaves B.C. woman concerned

After finding the owl on her Surrey property, Christine Trozzo says the poison is a concern for kids

Change to CPP death benefit panned as insufficient to cover funeral costs

Funeral Services Association of Canada lobbied governments to raise the value to $3,580

B.C. woman brain injured in crash as a baby gets $1.1 million in damages

Trial heard the woman was 16 months old, being carried by her mother when they were both hit

Family Christmas fun at Aldergrove’s Loft Country farm

The Loft Country children’s horse camp in Aldergrove is celebrating Christmas in a new way this year

Court denies WestJet’s bid to toss out discrimination lawsuit of former worker

Mandalena Lewis is suing WestJet over allegations of gender-based discrimination

VIDEO: 3 months later, rescued sea lion released back into ocean

The young animal was found in Campbell River three months ago

Sagmoen neighbours recall alleged hammer attack

Woman was screaming outside Maple Ridge townhouse in 2013

Most Read