Beauty and the Beast, Disney’s $300 million remake of the 1991 animated classic, is on-pace to shatter box-office records despite controversy over a gay scene, the Cleveland Plain Dealer is reporting.
Not a single frame of the live-action remake of Beauty and the Beast has shown in any American theater (excluding trailers, of course), and already projections are indicating that the movie may smash box-office records for March opening weekends. Currently, the box-office record for a movie opening in March belongs to Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, which earned $166 million in its opening weekend in March of 2016.
— NIfty Warehouse (@NiftyWarehouse) February 10, 2017
If pre-ticket sales on Fandango are any indication, that record is going to be shattered come Opening Day. As of this writing, Beauty and the Beast has already passed Captain America: Civil War and Finding Dory in advance ticket sales; Captain America had $179 million in advance sales before opening weekend, and Finding Dory had $135 million in advance ticket sales.
— Pop Crave (@PopCrave) March 6, 2017
That means, conservatively, Beauty and the Beast could take in between $110 million and $150 million on opening weekend.
The live-action remake of the Disney animated classic has not been without controversy, however. By now you have no doubt heard that the movie features a gay character: villain Gaston’s flunky LeFou, portrayed by Josh Gad, has a crush on Gaston in this version.
— ScreenCrush (@screencrushnews) March 4, 2017
The inclusion of the gay character has caused one Alabama drive-in theater to not show the new movie. As the Birmingham News reports, the Henagar Drive-In Theatre in DeKalb County posted on Facebook earlier this month that they will not screen the movie due to its inclusion of the gay character.
“If we cannot take our 11-year-old granddaughter and 8-year-old grandson to see a movie, we have no business watching it. If I can’t sit through a movie with God or Jesus sitting by me then we have no business showing it.”
So far, however, it seems that the controversy over Beauty and the Beast’s inclusion of a gay character seems limited to strong words on the internet and one Alabama theater deciding not to screen the film. As of this writing, it doesn’t appear as if the “controversy” is going to derail huge box-office predictions for the film.
What could potentially doom Beauty and the Beast, however, is nostalgia. According to the New York Times, some leaks from the new adaptation have already revealed some changes that aren’t sitting well with fans. One big change, which even caused director Bill Condon to defend the decision, was to replace Mrs. Potts’ spout nose.
“We wanted to keep the spout nose, we really did. But no matter what we tried, she just looked like a pig.”
Beyond Mrs. Potts, however, was the larger question of why Disney felt the need to reach into its animated archives and make a live-action remake.
“Why did Disney decide that modernizing Beauty and the Beast was a risk worth taking? And what is behind the studio’s plans to do the same with The Lion King, The Little Mermaid, and a host of other animated gems that fans hold near and dear?”
The answer, of course, is money: Disney does these things because it can and because it has a proven track record in this area. Or, for the less cynically inclined, they’re doing it because the House of the Mouse has always been about mining existing material for new ways to tell the story, even going back to Walt Disney himself and his desire to adapt Cinderella.
Beauty and the Beast opens in American theaters March 17.
[Featured Image by Jesse Grant/Getty Images]