Disney sure played their cards right when they started teasing the live-action adaptation of their 1991 animated film “Beauty and the Beast” close to a full year ago. It was all the time they needed to grab everybody’s attention. By the time full trailers were showing online and in cinema previews worldwide, the interest for many (and nostalgia for some) have reached fever pitch. Casting quibbles, singer choices and gay “propaganda” aside, the “Beauty and the Beast” movie starring Emma Watson and Dan Stevens has premiered big in cinemas, its opening weekend earning $170 million in the domestic box office, on top of the worldwide take from the (earlier) international debut, adding up to a respectable $350 million.
Forbes reports that the “Beauty and the Beast” opening weekend take now stands as the second highest non-summer blockbuster premiere behind only 2015’s “Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens” at $248 million, while being the biggest opening of a non-PG13 family movie. With regards to its star Watson, her latest film has now surpassed (by a million thus far) her biggest “Harry Potter” premiere, which was the second “Deathly Hallows” flick from 2011 that debuted at $169 million. Already the studio can heave a sigh of relief seeing as their opening weekend has already more than made up for the film’s $169 million production budget in US ticket sales alone.
Disney has been on a live-action kick for an unbelievably long time now, ever since Glenn Close starred as the maniacal fur-loving fashion designer Cruella in 1996’s “101 Dalmatians”. Other conversions included “Alice in Wonderland” (2010, with 2016 sequel), “Maleficent” (2014), “Cinderella” (2015), “Pete’s Dragon” and “The Jungle Book” (2016).
It’s been surmised that part of the reason the live-action remake has been a major draw was because of another marketing direction by Disney. Rather than retaining the bright and kid-friendly atmosphere of the 1991 animation to bank wholly on nostalgia, the production revamped the image of “Beauty and the Beast” to work as romantic drama with a significantly more mature age group. Nevertheless, they still retained a lot of kid-friendly elements such as the fantastic enchanted objects and the numerous song numbers – much more than the animated one did – to engage their young minds and imaginations.
The film’s early March release was a rather jam-packed pre-summer schedule that saw “Kong: Skull Island” and “Logan” beforehand, while other would-be blockbusters such as “Power Rangers” and “Ghost in the Shell” waiting in the wings on the coming months. Already Disney is making preparations for live-action versions of “Dumbo” and “Mulan” in the coming years.