Why ‘Beauty And The Beast’ Broke Records Despite Gay Controversy [Opinion]

Beauty and the Beast has reportedly earned a whopping $170 million in ticket sales in the United States and $180 million globally over the weekend, breaking a handful of Hollywood box office records, the New York Times reports. The film also edged out the record set by Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice for the biggest March opening a year ago.

The musical film, which was beset by controversy over its “exclusively gay moment” weeks before opening day, is also well on its way to earning $1 billion in global ticket sales by the end of its run. According to CNBC, Disney spent roughly $300 million in marketing and production.

The weeks leading to the premiere of Beauty and the Beast have been nothing short of controversial, particularly over Disney’s decision to include a gay character. The film’s so-called “exclusively gay moment” featured Josh Gad’s character LeFou. Conservatives, mostly Christians, were quick to come out of the woodwork, with many of them threatening to boycott the film on account of its “gay” content. In Alabama, several drive-in theater establishments canceled showings of the film. The Malaysian government initially banned the release of Beauty and the Beast before film censors finally approved a version that had the “gay moment” cut from the film. By way of response, Disney shelved the release of the film in the country, which earned widespread applause from the LGBT community and their supporters.

Was the outrage over the scene justified, at least when looking through the eyes of conservatives who are worried that an explicitly gay scene could compromise their morals? Having seen the film myself, my answer would be a resounding “No.” For one, it was not explicitly stated in the film that LeFou is homosexual. Second, the “gay scene” didn’t even last a few seconds. (Spoiler alert: the scene showed two men ballroom dancing together). There’s no apparent context in the scene which can be interpreted to mean that the dance between the two men is anything but platonic.

Ewan McGregor, who plays the candlestick in the movie, had the most epic response. Speaking on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, the 45-year-old actor said that the outrage over Beauty and the Beast’s “gay scene” is ridiculous, as reported by Digital Spy.

“There’s a lot of gay sex in it, there’s A LOT of gay sex in this film,” he said sarcastically. “There’s a lot of gay sex in this cartoon.”

“If you live anywhere near Alabama you should NOT go and see this film… what would Jesus think?”

Then he pointed out why he thinks it’s ridiculous that people are still being outraged over homosexuality in this day and age.

“No, I think he’s a gay character,” he said.

“It’s just like, he’s a gay character… it’s 2017, for f**k’s sake, y’know?”

Threats to boycott Beauty and the Beast on account of the “gay scene” amounted to nothing, however, as has been proven by high ticket sales.

There might be two main driving factors on why the film was a massive success despite the brandishing of torches and pitchforks on the part of conservatives: nostalgia and escape from cynicism.

There’s no question that nostalgia sells. After all, remakes and adaptations have proliferated in the last several years. It bears noting that most of those who can afford to pay for movie tickets are the 30- to 40-somethings that had watched and adored Disney’s 1991 animated version of Beauty and the Beast as kids. To most of them, the notion of passing on the movie is unthinkable.

And in a day and age where cynicism is widely accepted as the natural response to the world’s growing complexity, it’s difficult for moviegoers to resist the urge to watch a film brimming with such whimsy and optimism.

[Featured Image by Disney]