I hope you like seeing Disney's animated classics turned into live-action features. They're not going away anytime soon.
We have Beauty and the Beast to thank for that. Disney's flesh-and-blood (and CG) remake of the 1991 hit opened at the top of the domestic box office with an estimated $170 million. That's more than the animated feature earned during its entire theatrical run in the U.S., which ended at $145.9 million.
Beauty's opening weekend success was evident early on when it logged a $64.1 million opening day. That was enough to give it the third best start of all time for a March movie, after Batman V Superman ($81.6 million) and The Hunger Games ($67.3 million).
The success continued the next day when the movie sailed past studio estimates for a mid-$50 million Saturday to earn more than $60 million. The final Sunday numbers could come close to that — or even exceed it — if the cold weather start to spring break sends families scurrying off to theaters.
If the $170 million estimate bears out — or is exceeded — then Disney will be the proud owner of a new all-time box office weekend record for March. It'll be close; the previous record, held by Batman V Superman, stands at $166 million. A $170 million opening would also give Beauty and the Beast the seventh biggest debut of all time.
Disney was already expecting a hit weeks before Beauty hit theaters. Online ticket retailer Fandango outed the movie as its fastest-selling family film to date, beating out Disney's (via Pixar) 2016 hit, Finding Dory.
Beauty and the Beast is Disney's fourth live-action take on an animated classic in as many years. It may be the most successful as well, if this monster opening is any indication.
Although more of a spin-off, Maleficent kicked off the trend in 2014 with its live-action telling of the titular Sleeping Beauty villain's origin story. Cinderella followed the next year, delivering more of a straight adaptation of the classic story. Both movies opened in the mid-$60 million range.
The Jungle Book followed Cinderella's lead in 2016, opting for adaptation over spin-off. Audiences loved it — an all-star cast of voice actors helped — delivering a $103.3 million opening for the almost 50-years-later remake and its CG cast of talking animals.
Beauty and the Beast marks Disney's first attempt at turning one of its more contemporary animated classics into a live-action movie. Although it hasn't endeared itself to critics the way the 1991 film did, audiences are flocking to see it — likely thanks to the mix of a top-tier cast led by Emma Watson and the timeliness of the remake, which has nostalgic appeal to the young tastemakers of 2017.
The story is the same outside the U.S. as well. Disney projects a $180 million weekend for Beauty and the Beast in foreign markets. It opened at #1 in the U.K., Germany, Italy, Sweden, Brazil, and Mexico, among others, earned $44.8 million in China — the best to date in that country for Disney's live-action movies — and still has releases coming in France, Australia, and Japan.
Kong: Skull Island and Logan fall into a distant second and third, respectively, as they continue their strong theatrical runs. Kong finished the weekend with a $28.9 million estimate and Logan came in behind it at $17.5 million.
Both are sure to be overshadowed by Beauty's record-setting success, but each of them — with their positive critical reception and word-of-mouth success — should continue to stick around as counter-programming alternatives. Their endurance will be tested on March 24 when Power Rangers arrives to vie for many of the same eyeballs.
All current box office estimates are provided by comScore and all historical data comes from Box Office Mojo.