The $160 million tentpole stars British actress Emma Watson of Harry Potter fame as Belle, while Dan Stevens plays the Beast. The cast also includes Luke Evans, Josh Gad — playing a gay character, even if the scene is fleeting - Ewan McGregor, Stanley Tucci, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Ian McKellen and Emma Thompson.
"This is such a beloved property. And in such a time of uncertainty in this country, and all over the world, I think this movie gives people a sense of joy and comfort," says David Hoberman, who produced Beauty and the Beast alongside Todd Lieberman via their Mandeville Films.
Directed by Bill Condon, the live-action update of the classic 1991 animated musical shattered numerous records in its debut, not accounting for inflation, marking yet another major victory for Disney:
Top domestic opening of all time for a film rated PG
The previous record-holder in North America was Pixar/Disney's Finding Dory, which set sail to $135 million in summer 2016. Beauty also scored the top opening of all time for a PG film internationally, where it waltzed to $180 million, led by China ($44.8 million). Next up was the U.K. - Watson's home country - where the pic earned $22.8 million, the fifth biggest for any film and the biggest for a PG title.
No. 7 launch of all time for any movie
Beauty narrowly beat out the final Harry Potter movie ($169.2 million) to rank No. 7 on the top 10 list of biggest bows in North America, a massive accomplishment. (The film is also Watson's biggest opener to date.) Several rival studios believe that when final weekend receipts are tallied, Beauty could even come in as high as $174 million, which would tie it with Iron Man 3 for No. 6.
Biggest debut of all time for a female-fueled film
In an era when many wonder at the lack of strong females behind and in front of the camera, Beauty once again underscores the buying power of women and girls. On Friday, more than 70 percent of ticket buyers were females, although that percentage evened out over the weekend to 60 percent, according to Disney. Either way, no movie fueled at this level by femmes of all ages has ever opened to such big numbers. By way of comparison, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire debuted to $158.1 million in November 2014, while The Twilight Saga: New Moon took in $142 million in November 2009 for a series-best mark for each.
Biggest domestic bow in almost a year
No one could have imagined that Beauty would land the biggest North American debut in almost a year, when Marvel/Disney's Captain America: Civil War raked in $179.1 million on its first weekend in early May 2016. And Beauty likewise wasn't expected to best Lucasfilm/Disney's Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, which launched in December to $155 million, or take the crown for best March opening by topping Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice, which bowed to $166 million over the March 25-27 weekend last year. Beauty also posted the biggest March opening ever in a number of foreign markets, including Mexico ($11.6 million), Germany ($10.7 million) and Spain ($5.8 million).
Alice in Wonderland, step aside
Disney has set a new record for itself. The film studio has already proven itself a beast when it comes to transforming beloved animated classics into live-action event films, beginning with Alice in Wonderland and followed by Maleficent, Cinderella and The Jungle Book, but Beauty sets a new bar. Alice, directed by Tim Burton and starring Johnny Depp, previously sported the biggest opening for this genre of films, debuting to $116.1 million over the March 3-5 weekend in 2010 on its way to topping out at $1.025 billion globally. It remains to be seen just how much Beauty and the Beast ultimately takes in, but it appears destined to become part of the billion-dollar club.