The classic animated "Beauty" has stood the test of time and is still by consensus one of the best Disney has ever made. Disney's flesh-and-blood (and CG) remake of the 1991 hit opened at the top of the domestic box office with an estimated $170 million. "Mulan", "Mary Poppins", "Little Mermaid", "The Lion King" and many others are set to come to the big screen.
The record haul is good news for Disney since the movie had a steep $160 million production budget.
One beneficiary of GOP's tax bill: President Trump. It topped the previous March opening weekend record of $166 million set by Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice past year and also the seventh largest opening weekend ever.
It's a trend that started with Disney's live-action update of "Alice in Wonderland" seven years ago, a film whose $116 million opening proved once and for all that you could open a blockbuster in March as easily as in May or June.
In fifth place is Lionsgate's The Shack, with US$6.1 million, for a total of US$42.6 million in U.S. sales in its third week.
Talking to Moviefone, Disney's Executive Vice President for Theatrical Distribution, Dave Hollis, cited nostalgia first among "Beauty's" strengths.
New Pics of Katie Holmes' Mini-Me Suri Cruise
Katie Holmes arrives at the TAO, Beauty and Essex, Avenue and Luchini Los Angeles grand opening on Thursday, March 16, 2017. But, he adds, joking, "I taught her how to skip rocks".
In addition to Ms. Watson, Mr. Stevens, Ms. Thompson, Mr. Kline, Ms. McDonald, Mr. McGregor, and Mr. McKellen, the movie also stars Josh Gad and Stanley Tucci. And after Malaysian censors required an edit of the scene, Disney pulled the film from release in the predominantly Muslim nation.
Beauty and the Beast has recorded the seventh best opening overall in the United States and Canada.
"Disney is an awfully potent empire right now", Exhibitor Relations' Jeff Bock told Variety, adding that the studio "has all the other studios salivating". With the massive recent success of La La Land (more than US$417 million in worldwide sales), it proves that escapist song-and-dance fantasy still sells, even in countries that haven't traditionally responded to the format.
The cast is absolutely stellar, especially Emma Watson as Belle.
Logan, starring Hugh Jackman reprising his role as Wolverine for what he says is the final time, slashed its way into third place, pulling in $17.5 million and bringing the R-rated superhero tale's stateside total to $184 million.