Disney's "Beauty and the Beast" grabs huge $16.3M Thursday box office

Mar 18, 2017, 00:55

The live-action musical opens in 4,210 theaters in the United States and Canada this Friday, including Premium Large Format and 3D locations. "The one who will break the spell?" The Beast still fights with the wolves when he rescues Belle, Gaston still mortally wounds the Beast when his back is turned and subsequently falls to his death, but if there was any blood to be seen, I missed it. Gaston also treats Maurice even worse in live-action than in animation, which I wouldn't have thought possible.

Starting with Luke Evans as Gaston, the narcissistic hunter who wants Belle to be his wife. It's mainly a recreation of the original film, but manages to squeeze in some additional context that make its characters more fully-rounded, and their circumstances more understandable. In Malaysia, where censors sought to cut the gay scene, Disney chose to pull the film altogether. But in the live action, Belle's love for roses leads to more than you know from the animated version. But I also think the objective of this experiment was to test how ads could work on Google Home.

We all know the scene: Belle, twirling in a yellow gown, dances with the Beast in a shimmering ballroom to the song "Beauty and the Beast".

Dan Stevens brings period drama charm to his role as the Beast, making up for all that time on "Downton Abbey" that was cut short. Ian McKellen is quite amusing as Cogsworth and Ewan McGregor, despite never seeing the original movie, brings the same upbeat and whimsical performance to Lumiere. That rings truer, if you ask me. People were accustomed to seeing the prince in his beast form most of the time.

This version of "Beauty", a story about looking for the beauty within, advances the film's message of acceptance by introducing that the character of LeFou (Josh Gad) is gay. And Evans looks like he's having a blast playing Gaston. Usually when you walk onto a set you can see the smoke and the mirrors, you can see the bones of how it was put together.

The Beast's faithful companions thankfully push the movie along, because without them there'd be little to watch. It was both a tribute and a new take on the original classic.

For the most part, excellent. Unfortunately, though, it looks like Disney and cinema fans in Malaysia won't be able to share in the cinematic experience due to censorship issues in the country.

After a solid Thursday night opening, "Beauty" is projected to bring in $140 million this weekend, according to analysts.

The six-time Tony victor is looking past all that; the role is a big one for her.

Edwin: I think the blandness with which the "Belle" sequence was shot put me in an even more pessimistic mindset that the film could offer enough new elements to justify its existence.

If you loved the first one, you'll find that the feature-film version is a beauty, too.