The Disney live-action fairy tale — earning a record $63.8 million on Friday — is on its way to landing one of the top 10 openings of all time and the biggest ever for a PG title.
Director Bill Condon’s Beauty and the Beast is doing monstrous business at the North American box office, waltzing to $63.8 million on Friday for a projected record-breaking weekend north of $170 million in another huge win for Disney’s growing stable of live-action fairy tale movies.
The update of the classic 1991 animated musical is destined to set a number of records, including the biggest start ever for a PG title (Finding Dory is the current champ with $135 million).
Beauty looks to pass up the $166 million domestic debut of last year’s Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice to land the top March opening of all time. The family friendly movie should boast one of the top 10 openings of all time, and the biggest outside of summer save for fellow 2015 December blockbuster, Star Wars: The Force Awakens, not accounting for inflation.
Friday’s tally is the largest single day for a PG movie, beating the 2009 Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince ($58 million). Beauty, playing in 4,210 theaters, skewed heavily female on Friday (72 percent), according to one polling service. Audiences gave the film an A CinemaScore.
The $160 million tentpole, produced by Mandeville Films, should see a nice boost from a full run in Imax theaters, generally known as a haven for fanboys, and not families.
But with PG films booming, Imax is expanding its programming to include such are. Imax worked with Condon on making a special version of Beauty that allows more to be seen on the screen because of a different aspect ratio.
Beauty and the Beast stars Emma Watson as Belle and Dan Stevens as the Beast, and the cast also includes Luke Evans, Josh Gad, Ewan McGregor, Stanley Tucci, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Ian McKellen and Emma Thompson.
The tale follows Belle, who attempts to rescue her father from the castle of a terrifying beast, and instead becomes his captor. But she soon starts to fall for the Beast and the enchanted staff of his castle, who were all put under a spell by a witch.
Beauty is also opening around the world and should earn at least $100 million overseas. It took in a strong $11.5 million on its opening day, debuting as the No. 1 film in all but one market (Slovakia, where it was the No. 1 non-local film). It is also doing well in Russia, despite a restrictive rating slapped on the film after Condon recently revealed that Gad’s character, Gaston’s sidekick, is gay.
Censors in Malaysia have gone one step further and asked Disney to cut what it deems a “gay moment,” but the studio says it won’t make any changes.
The only other film opening nationwide this weekend in North America is The Belko Experiment, which grossed $1.5 million Friday from 1,341 theaters for a projected $3.6 million weekend, just below an expected $4 million.
Written by James Gunn (Guardians of the Galaxy), The Belko Experiment is an Orion Pictures’ low-budget horror thriller which Blumhouse’s distribution arm, BT Tilt, is releasing.
The film, directed by Greg McLean, follows a group of 80 Americans who are locked in their high-rise office in Bogota, Colombia, and ordered by an unknown voice coming from the company’s intercom system to participate in a deadly game of kill or be killed in order to survive.
March 17, 12:20 p.m. Updated with revised weekend projections.
March 18, 7:35 a.m. Updated with Friday numbers and revised weekend projections.
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