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Beauty And The Beast smashes the US box office to set weekend record

Disney film with gay character enjoys biggest March opening ever in the US, and the seventh biggest opening of all time

Beauty And The Beast smashes the US box office to set weekend record
Dan Stevens as the beast, and Emma Watson as Belle in Beauty and the Beast

New live-action Disney movie Beauty and the Beast has set a box office record on its opening weekend. The movie, which opened in most global territories on Friday, took $170million (€158million) at the US box office alone – a record amount for a March opening.

Such a huge figure is more usually associated with a major summer blockbuster. Beauty’s tally makes it the biggest movie opening in the US in the month of March, and the seventh biggest opening of all time.

The previous March record was held by Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, which took $166million in its opening weekend last year.

Beauty’s opening even beats the final instalment of the final Harry Potter movie, which took $169million in its opening weekend in 2011 (both it and Beauty star British actress Emma Watson)

The success of Beauty and the Beast comes despite mixed lukewarm reviews (70% on Rotten Tomatoes) and controversy over the inclusion of a gay character.

Director Bill Condon has described the decision to show Gaston’s personal manservant LeFou (played Josh Gad) as having a crush on his villainous boss as ‘subtle’. The character has still led to outrage from a handful of Christian groups in the US and some foreign distributors.

In Russia, the film recieved an adult rating.

The film is not being released in Malaysia after the government there demanded that scenes alluding to the LeFou’s sexuality be cut. Disney refused and said it would not release the film in the country in censored form.

Variety reports the film also had a strong opening in China, where authorities screened the film uncensored.

Beauty and the Beast number one around the world

Outside the US, the film took $180million (€167million) from 44 markets (racking up a cumulative gross of $350million/€325million).

It opened at number one in every market except Turkey, Vietnam and India. Outside the US, its biggest opening was the UK, where it took $22.8million.

In the US, the film’s appeal cut across all demographic groups, with 22% of the audience being children under 12.

‘The elements came together to make this into a can’t miss event,’ said Dave Hollis, Disney’s distribution chief, reports Variety.

‘There was massive nostalgia for the original film. Parents loved the movie and they wanted to show this one to their kids and share that experience.’

LGBT media advocacy organization GLAAD was among those celebrating the film’s opening weekend performance. It tweeted, ‘This will help send a message to LGBTQ kids that they’re important.’

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