With just over a month-and-a-half until it’s released in theaters, Beauty and the Beast is shaping up to be a mammoth hit. Most of the previous Disney live-action remakes have all been barnstormers – Alice in Wonderland rode Avatar’s 3D-hype wave to $1.025 billion worldwide, Maleficent brought in $750 million despite negative reviews, Cinderella notched up over $500 million and last year The Jungle Book capped $1 billion (the only exception is Pete’s Dragon, which came from a lesser-known property and was lumbered with a late-summer release) – but Bill Condon’s take on the 1991 classic looks like it could easily top those.
Beauty and the Beast‘s first two trailers smashed release viewing records and the third trailer, released on Monday, has been met with overwhelming praise. That new sneak peek coincided with the commencement of ticket pre-sale, which are further pointing towards a box office smash.
Pixar’s Finding Nemo sequel opened to $135 million domestically and went on to become the second biggest film of 2016 in the US, beaten only by Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. While it doesn’t sound like the film has beaten the site-crashing Star Wars numbers, that still puts it on track to be one of the year’s biggest hits and all but guarantees a major opening weekend.
That the film is gaining such high levels of excitement is hardly surprising. Even discounting Cinderella and The Jungle Book lending legitimacy to Disney’s remake venture, Beauty and the Beast is one of the Mouse House’s most beloved animated classics (it was the first animated film ever nominated for the Best Picture Oscar), so it has a massive potential audience. The original’s classic tunes are being retained (along with a few new songs) and the chosen cast is stacked; Emma Watson as Belle, Dan Stevens as the Beast and Luke Evans as Gaston are backed up by some all-time greats as servants-turned-household-items. There is a question of if Condon can pull it all off, but the signs are pretty positive so far.
2017 has a lot of blockbusting heavyweights on the way – The Fate of the Furious, Transformers: The Last Knight, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales, Spider-Man: Homecoming and Star Wars: The Last Jedi chief among them – that could all pass $1 billion worldwide. Still, these early numbers suggest that they are going to have their work cut out to surpass Beauty and the Beast.