Tale as old as time: Disney's 'Beauty and the Beast' debuts at $238 million

I hope you like seeing Disney's animated classics turned into live-action features. They're not going away anytime soon.

We have Beauty and the Beast to thank for that. Disney's flesh-and-blood (and CG) remake of the 1991 hit opened at the top of the domestic box office with an estimated US$170 million(S$238 million). That's more than the animated feature earned during its entire theatrical run in the US, which ended at US$145.9 million.

Beauty's opening weekend success was evident early on when it logged a US$64.1 million opening day. That was enough to give it the third best start of all time for a March movie, after Batman V Superman (US$81.6 million) and The Hunger Games (US$67.3 million).

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The success continued the next day when the movie sailed past studio estimates for a mid-US$50 million Saturday to earn more than US$60 million. The final Sunday numbers could come close to that - or even exceed it - if the cold weather start to spring break sends families scurrying off to theatres.

If the US$170 million estimate bears out - or is exceeded - then Disney will be the proud owner of a new all-time box office weekend record for March. It'll be close; the previous record, held by Batman V Superman, stands at US$166 million. A US$170 million opening would also give Beauty and the Beast the seventh biggest debut of all time.

Read also: Why the gay subplot in 'Beauty and the Beast' shouldn't be a big deal

Disney was already expecting a hit weeks before Beauty hit theatres. Online ticket retailer Fandango outed the movie as its fastest-selling family film to date, beating out Disney's (via Pixar) 2016 hit, Finding Dory.

Beauty and the Beast is Disney's fourth live-action take on an animated classic in as many years. It may be the most successful as well, if this monster opening is any indication.

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