Despite drawing criticism, and outright boycotts, for the inclusion of an openly gay character, Disney's live-action remake of "#Beauty and the Beast" is expected to have an impressive #Opening Weekend. The studio projects the final box office take to be somewhere near $165 million, although experts at The Hollywood Reporter place their own projections even higher at $170 million.
Friday totals over $60 million in ticket sales
According to ticket-selling site Fandango, presales for the movie have been better than 2016's "Finding Dory" which held the title for fastest-selling family genre #Film until "Beauty and the Beast" came along. Sales have also been similar to major action films, even beating last summer's Marvel hit "Captain America: Civil War," which went on to take in more than $1 billion in ticket sales worldwide.
Including those presale seats, plus $16.3 million from Thursday's advanced preview screenings, "Beauty and the Beast" is estimated to have earned more than $63 million by the end of day Friday. With theaters across North America adding showtimes to accommodate more fans, Saturday is expected to have a massive impact on box office totals.
Prior to the release of Friday's sales totals, Disney had only estimated earnings of $120 million opening weekend. The film cost a reported $160 million to make, with CGI animation accounting for a huge portion of the budget. The original, animated "Beauty and the Beauty" reportedly only cost Disney $20 million to produce back in 1991.
International sales strong, despite concerns
Friday, March 17th was also the opening day for the movie internationally, a rare occurrence in Hollywood due to the massive costs associated with such a wide release, however Disney tends to be very protective of its films with regards to piracy and the excitement around the release of "Beauty and the Beast" almost guaranteed box office success globally.
The expensive gamble obviously paid off with early estimates projecting international earnings to be over $100 million by the end of the weekend and the movie has already earned the top box office spot in nearly every country where it is screening. (In Malaysia, the government ordered Disney to cut the film's "gay moment," but the studio refused, putting the release into jeopardy.) The box office reports have even been strong in Russia, where the movie was hit with a restrictive 16+ rating due to the refusal to remove the film's gay character.
The only other new movie opening in theaters this weekend is "The Belko Experiment" but with only a fraction of the screens of "Beauty and the Beast", it is expected to gross about $4 million over the course of the weekend.