Disney has proven once more that audiences have a thirst for live-action remakes of its animated classics.
Following the live-action version of “The Jungle Book” earning close to $ 1 billion worldwide last year, the studio looks to have another cash cow in the making with “Beauty and the Beast” breaking the record for the biggest opening weekend ever for March with an estimated $ 170 million, according to Variety.
That jumps the previous record holder, “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice,” which opened to $ 166 million last year.
It’s also the biggest opening ever for a PG-rated movie (passing last year’s “Finding Dory,” $ 135 million) and is seventh place in all-time opening weekend grosses (moving past “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2,” $ 169.1 million).
“Beauty and the Beast,” which stars Emma Watson in the Belle role and Dan Stevens as the Beast, had the year’s biggest Thursday preview of the year with $ 16.3 million, which added to its $ 64.1 million Friday earning. That’s the largest opening day for a PG movie, passing 2009’s “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince.” The movie then took in $ 64.8 million on Saturday (the fourth-best Saturday take ever, beating the $ 62.2 million earned by “Iron Man 3” in 2013).
It’s $ 170 million weekend exceeds the industry’s expectations of a $ 165 million opening and also makes back the film’s production budget, which was at $ 160 million.
Outside of a few scenes, the movie is an almost exact remake of the classic 1991 Disney animated feature, which went on to win Oscars for best original score and best original song.