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.
Beauty and the Beast will set a record for the largest March opening in a walk, and will become the biggest opening weekend ever for Emma Watson, overtaking the opening of Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows: Part 2. The movie will give Disney its sixth spot on the list of the top 10 biggest opening weekends of all time, according to Deadline. With estimates now looking in the range of $174-179 million, Beauty and The Beast could grab the sixth-best opening ever after Captain America: Civil War ($179.1 million), beating out Iron Man 3 ($174.1 million). It could go even higher on the list.
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.
Beauty and the Beast is also grabbing the biggest per-screen average of all movies so far this weekend, with around $41,000 per screen. In second place is T2: Transpotting, the sequel to the 1996 classic Trainspotting, which has grabbed around $38,000 per screen on its limited five-screen release so far. That movie has collected $34 million worldwide to date.
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.
Watson is seemingly a big reason for the movie’s success, with around a third of moviegoers reporting that her starring role as Belle is why they decided to see Beauty and the Beast. But there’s an aspect of the movie that’s caused a lot of controversy around the world: the fact that Disney’s included a gay character in one of its blockbusters for the first time.
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]