Disney's Beauty and the Beast opens to record-breaking debut

Mike P Williams
Contributor

Disney’s live-action version of ‘Beauty and the Beast’ opened this week to strong receptions both domestically in the US and here in the UK.

Emma Watson and Dan Stevens in ‘Beauty and the Beast’ – Credit: Disney

Despite an array of mixed reviews for Disney’s latest starring Emma Watson and Dan Stevens, the fact it’s a remake of a beloved classic was reason enough for audiences to see it.

The film cost $170 million to make but already it has taken $350 million in worldwide ticket sales. Its opening weekend saw it amass a staggering $170m in the US, which has broken a record for a film opening in March.

Not only has it enjoyed huge success over there but it’s been making waves in the UK too. This weekend has seen the movie take £18.4 million which is the fifth biggest weekend (Friday to Sunday) opening in history, as reported by Screen International’s Ian Sandwell (below).


That’s some impressive going, especially during the post-Oscars and pre-Easter period.

But if Disney’s past record is anything to go by then this shouldn’t come as a huge surprise. In 2014, the Angelina Jolie-starring ‘Maleficent’ did far better than anticipated, with a $759m haul. Similarly, 2015’s ‘Cinderella’ scooped $543m. And Jon Favreau’s visually stunning take on last year’s ‘The Jungle Book’ pleased the masses after taking just shy of $1 billion ($967m to be exact).

The above live-action adaptations received mixed reviews (bar ‘Jungle Book’ which was warmly received). Yet regardless of any negativity, fans still turned out to see their favourite stories retold with real, live actors.

The Mouse House have no doubt tapped into that nostalgia and family vibe after breathing new life into their classic animated tales. Even though some of their animations don’t initially seem suitable for live-action, they appear to have established a winning formula with strong production value, a well-known ensemble, and a big audience in place.

From left: Kevin Kline, Emma Watson. Credit: Walt Disney Pictures/Everett Collection

With plenty of future endeavours on the cards, it seems Disney intend to carry on expanding on their animation to live-action adaptations.

Guy Ritchie is undertaking the responsibility of bringing a live version of ‘Aladdin’ to the big screen, intending to hire unknown actors to play both Aladdin and Princess Jasmine. There’s also ‘Mulan’, ‘The Little Mermaid’, and ‘The Lion King’ that’re all due out over the next few years. The former is surrounded in controversy for whitewashing and the pressure to bring Ariel and Simba to life is huge. But as ‘Jungle Book’ showed, anything’s possible with a talented team and groundbreaking technology at their disposal.

‘Beauty and the Beast’ is in cinemas now.

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