Having proven their worth when it comes to live-action adaptations of some of their most beloved classics, Walt Disney Studios are continuing on with that trend with the release of Beauty and the Beast. Following on from the success of the recent Pete’s Dragon and The Jungle Book live-action flicks, as well as the earlier movies Alice in Wonderland, Maleficent and Cinderella, the company are clearly confident that fans will be filling out theaters to see new versions of their favorite movies once more.
Starring Emma Watson and Dan Stevens in the titular roles, alongside Luke Evans as Gaston and Josh Gad as Disney’s first exclusively gay character Le Fou, the Bill Condon-directed film has been the source of much talk ahead of its official premiere, with one Alabama drive-in even canceling their scheduled airings of the family flick. However, recent reports suggest that those who are unimpressed with the addition of a homosexual character haven’t had too much of an impact on box office numbers.
According to THR, Beauty and the Beast will be seeing upwards of $60 million takings on Friday, March 17 (including a $16.3 million boost from Thursday night previews), soaring to $165-$170 million total across the weekend. This means there’s the chance that it could pass the $166 million U.S. debut of 2016 DC Extended Universe release Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice, which would make the musical the most successful March opening of all time. It also looks destined to grab the record for the biggest start ever for a PG title, as well as claiming a slot on the top 10 openings of all time.
The number knocks the $21.5 million opening weekend Pete’s Dragon had out of the park, and even adds a hefty amount to The Jungle Book’s opening weekend figure of $103.2 million. That said, it doesn’t compete with the likes of Marvel’s The Avengers, which took in $207.4 million and Star Wars: The Force Awakens, which enjoyed hefty opening figures of almost $248 million.
Of course, we’ll have to wait until Monday to discover just how much damage has been done to the pockets of families across America by the latest Disney release. There’s every chance these numbers could be over-predictions, but if we’ve learned anything in our time, it’s to never underestimate the power of Walt Disney Studios (even if there are lukewarm reviews).
The numbers are certainly a sight for sore eyes. In a world that can be so full of rejection and intolerance, Beauty and the Beast seems to be providing the two-hour escape America needs to sit back and enjoy the idea that love can come in many forms, and in this case, straight out of the blue and the unlikeliest place.