Disney is back with the biggest yet of its live-action remakes of animated classics, and $170 million for “Beauty and the Beast” set real records. However, the most important record may belong to the overall top 10, which earned $249 million — the best since December 2015, and that was when we had “Star Wars: The Force Awakens.”
So all of a sudden, 2017 is 5 percent up over last year’s strong start. That will ebb slightly next weekend (when “Batman v Superman” will be the comparison), but we are in the middle of a solid rebound.
The Top Ten
1. Beauty and the Beast (Disney) NEW – Cinemascore: A; Metacritic: 65; Est. budget: $160 million
$170,000,000 in 4,210 theaters; PTA (per theater average): $40,380,000; Cumulative: $170,000,000
2. Kong: Skull Island (Warner Bros.) Week 2; Last weekend #1
$28,850,000 (-53%) in 3,846 theaters (no change); PTA: $7,501; Cumulative: $110,125,000
3. Logan (20th Century Fox) Week 3; Last weekend #2
$17,500,000 (-54%) in 3,687 theaters (-384); PTA: $4,746; Cumulative: $184,027,000
4. Get Out (Universal) Week 4; Last weekend #3
$13,250,000 (-36%) in 2,979 theaters (-164); PTA: $4,448; Cumulative: $133,118,000
5. The Shack (Sony) Week 3; Last weekend #4
$6,130,000 (-39%) in 2,825 theaters (-63); PTA: $2,170; Cumulative: $42,615,000
6. The LEGO Batman Movie (Warner Bros.) Week 6; Last weekend #5
$4,700,000 (-38%) in 2,735 theaters (-568); PTA: $1,718; Cumulative: $167,423,000
7. The Belko Experiment (BH Tilt) NEW – Cinemascore: (not reported); Metacritic: 43; Est. budget: $4 million
$4,051,000 in 1,341 theaters; PTA: $3,021; Cumulative: $4,051,000
8. Hidden Figures (20th Century Fox) Week 13; Last weekend #7
$1,500,000 (-46%) in 1,162 theaters (-259); PTA: $1,291; Cumulative: $165,559,000
9. John Wick: Chapter 2 (Lionsgate) Week 6; Last weekend #8
$1,200,000 (-51%) in 1,065 theaters (-966); PTA: $1,127; Cumulative: $89,791,000
10. Before I Fall (Open Road) Week 3; Last weekend #6
$1,034,000 (-66%) in 1,551 theaters (-795); PTA: $667; Cumulative: $11,295,000
Good News on Multiple Fronts
“Beauty” hit all its marks (it’s already earned $180 million in international markets), but it shared the wealth. Although “Beauty” clearly received attention from multiple demographics, it still left enough to allow three other films (“Kong: Skull Island,” “Logan,” and “Get Out”) to add $13 million or more to their already $100 million+ totals. Add the ongoing success of the low-budget “The Shack” and the still-active “The LEGO Batman Movie” and the bottom-line results for theaters are thrilling.
The combination of varied-appeal titles, largely favorable reviews, and attention to quality (discerning choice of directors, top-end actors) — beyond what is necessarily required from less-demanding international audiences – are keeping concerns about high budgets under control.
So one film has raised the bar for the year. But it’s not in a vacuum; it serves as the climax of a rebound that has the industry (for now) firing on most cylinders.
The only minor glitch is “The Belko Experiment” (BH Tilt), which saw Orion Pictures join forces with Jason Blum’s niche distribution label; results for the Toronto 2016 Midnight Madness pickup saw minor business. Unlike Blumhouse’s major scores “Split” and “Get Out,” “Belko” failed to impress critics and did minimal business. At least it only cost $5 million, and BH Tilt keeps its marketing expenses minimal.
“Beauty” Set Real Records
Here are some “Beauty and the Beast” records that are all time by any measure:
— The biggest March opening weekend ever, beating out “Batman v Superman” last year and the initial “Hunger Games.”
— The biggest opening weekend ever for the first four months of a year
— The biggest PG-rated opener ever, besting the third and second “Shrek” films and “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone”
— The biggest musical opening ever (The era of massive musical grossers such as “The Sound of Music” came when they were released as limited, road-show openers, and didn’t hit mass audiences sometimes until a year into their runs.)
Here’s where the numbers get astounding. In three days, “Beauty” has grossed more than any 2017 release other than “Logan,” which it will likely overtake by the week’s end. It already has bettered “The LEGO Batman Movie,” which led the year’s releases until last Thursday. It has already outgrossed the two very big Best Picture nominees, “Hidden Figures” and “La La Land.”
Where will it end? Repeat viewings and audience response will determine this, but it looks to be headed to at least $400 million domestic, conceivably more, and over $1 billion world wide.
Will it stand? Possibly not for long, at least worldwide; “The Fate of the Furious” (Universal) is due next month. But it is a huge benchmark, and a spectacular number.
Disney dominated 2016 like no other distributor in history, with a 26 percent market share, and this is their first release this year. Still, they had managed to hold on to nearly 8 percent share, mainly “Rogue One” and “Moana.” With “Beauty” Disney has begun with Marvel, Pixar and homegrown animated films still to come, climaxing with the now-annual “Star Wars” entry. The same total share? Likely not, but still the favorite to lead.
Holdovers Stay Strong
Diversity in appeal helped keep other top films in play. “Kong: Skull Island” dropped 53 percent, hardly unexpected considering its larger-than-expected debut. It now is around $260 million worldwide. It remains an uncertain moneymaker for Warners and Legendary, but the domestic fall was small enough to keep this in the running for profit. Give it credit for falling less than “Logan” did in its second weekend.
“Logan” dropped 54 percent — a little more than some third weekends in the “X-Men” franchise, though better than the last “Wolverine” standalone entry. It does appear the R rating and grittier story might slightly limit the audience, but with its under-$100 million budget, this is a strong entry for Fox’s Marvel franchise.
“Get Out” continues to thrive with only a 36 percent drop. At $133 million and on pace to reach $170 million domestic, even with only minor foreign returns likely, this second Blumhouse smash of the year could see the best return on investment with its sub-$5 million production cost.
“The Shack” continues the record of faith-based studio films holding better than average, with only a 39 percent fall in its third weekend. With Easter still ahead and doing well enough to hold on until then, this might end up with a four-times multiple and $65 million or so total, again on a low budget.
“The LEGO Batman Movie” might have been expected to get caught in the “Beauty” swirl, but managed to lose only 38 percent from last weekend. With spring vacation breaks ongoing, it could still pass $185 million. That would be down from the initial “LEGO Movie” ($258 million domestic), but Warners kept its budget to $80 million, so worldwide returns over $300 million should return a decent profit for Warners.