Disney‘s latest live action film Beauty and the Beast steals the spot for top selling opening weekend so far this year, raking in $170 million from Disney fans all over the country. This exceeds any other G- and PG- rated films openings from before, including Finding Dory which premiered with a $135 million opening weekend.
Dave Hollis, the Head of Distribution for Disney, says that, “Nostalgia is a very powerful driver for these films…What’s exciting here is there is an opportunity to see these beloved stories in a way that’s never been seen before, but you get to build that on the foundation of something that’s very familiar.” He also added that, “you don’t get to $170 million because of nostalgia. You have to ultimately make these movies great.”
While there had been backlash recently from those who were not pleased that Disney had apparently added their first openly gay character in LeFou played by Josh Gad, that has obviously had no effect on the initial turnout except to maybe make even more people want to go and see it. The fact that the “exclusively gay” moment advertised takes up about 2 seconds of the film and is rather easily passed over will only offend those who are the “most narrow-minded”, in senior media analyst Paul Dergarabedian‘s words (though it may disappoint those who were looking for a bit more representation).
[Mild Spoilers Ahead]
The movie itself is CGI masterpiece with much that is familiar but also a lot that is new. Several original songs join in with the familiar ones, and the romance of the story is more fleshed out than in the original Disney. The live action also takes the time to stress the importance of family, adding some more backstory of the Beast/Prince as well as giving us some info on Belle’s mother. Belle herself is more noticeably feminist by modern standards, though our original heroine was no pushover either. An unexpected bonus is that the side characters get more screen time and development, one character (beyond the Beast) even having a surprising sort of redemption arc that expands over the duration of the movie.
Dergarabedian predicts that the new Beauty and the Beast will reach over $1 billion during its run in theaters, and between the nostalgia and the updated messages from the film, it may just do that.