'Beauty And The Beast' Overcomes 'Gay Scene' Controversy For Record Box Office

Kris Holt

Beauty and the Beast, Disney's latest attempt at mining one of its classic animated features for a live-action remake, is set to land a huge first weekend at the worldwide box office -- despite controversy over an apparent "gay scene" that doesn't actually amount to much.

The movie is selling out theaters all over the United States and beyond after a massive volume of pre-sale tickets and huge walk-up business. It took in $64.1 million in its first day, which is the third-biggest March opening day after Batman V. Superman: Dawn of Justice ($81.55 million) and The Hunger Games ($67.3 million). But there are reports of massive lines for Beauty and the Beast, and with opening weekend estimates now rising above $173 million, it will conquer Batman V. Superman's $166 million March record.

Audience analysis indicates Beauty and the Beast is drawing people from a broad range of demographics, and while those aged 18-34 are making up most of the audience (70 percent), it is pulling in people who don't often go to a movie theater. That's evident because 60 percent of Beauty and the Beast's take so far is from 2D screenings. Deadline notes that regular moviegoers will typically go for IMAX or 3D screenings, with infrequent attendees opting for cheaper 2D tickets.

The audience is also mostly female (72 percent) with 55 percent of the audience aged 25 or older. Under 18s make up around a third of Beauty and the Beast's business so far.

But T2: Trainspotting's global accomplishment is already overshadowed by Beauty and The Beast, which is doing great business internationally. In its first two days, Beauty and the Beast has collected $52 million in overseas territories, Deadline reports. That could point to a global opening weekend north of $300 million.

LeFou, the right-hand man of villain Gaston, is depicted as a gay man. Josh Gad plays him and though there were rumors of LeFou featuring in a "gay scene," that proved to be more of an innocent "gay moment," as the Inquisitr reported. Still, having LeFou as a gay character caused several countries and territories to ban theaters from screening Beauty and the Beast.

Malaysia has banned Beauty and The Beast and Russia is considering following suit. Anti-gay groups have called for a boycott, with one group in Hong Kong urging censors there to block it as well.

Yet that wave of intolerance hasn't stopped Disney from luring moviegoers all over the world on its way to a huge box office opening. The final opening weekend gross for Beauty and the Beast should be confirmed on Monday.

[Featured Image by Disney]