Beauty and the Beast enchants with record North American opening
The movie musical has already recouped its production costs with the domestic takings alone.
Disney's Beauty and the Beast has worked its magic over film fans to debut atop the North American box office with a record-breaking $170 million (£137 million) gross.
The live-action remake of the 1991 animated classic, starring Emma Watson and Dan Stevens as the fairytale couple, enchanted movie-goers upon its release on Friday (17Mar17), setting a new record as the highest-grossing debut weekend for a PG-rated film since last year's (16) Finding Dory amassed $135 million (£109 million).
It is also the new record holder for the biggest March opening, beating superhero movie Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice's $166 million (£134 million) haul a year ago (Mar16).
Beauty and the Beast, made on a budget of $160 million (£129.2 million), dominated global markets, too, outperforming the competition in China, the U.K., Germany and Italy, among other territories, while even Russian fans flocked to see the revamp, despite authorities banning anyone under the age of 16 from viewing the film due to the inclusion of Josh Gad's gay character LeFou.
The movie musical, directed by Bill Condon, also co-stars Luke Evans, Ewan McGregor, Kevin Kline, Ian McKellen, and Emma Thompson.
"This goes beyond our wildest expectations and it's so satisfying to see the audience response," Dave Hollis, Disney's distribution chief, gushed to Deadline.com. "On Twitter fans are saying that they cried multiple times. There's a hopeful sense of repeat business for the rest of the pic's (sic) run. Audiences responded to the film in ways you don't often see."
Meanwhile, back in the North American box office chart, last week's top pick, Kong: Skull Island, drops to two with $28.8 million (£23.2 million), as Hugh Jackman's Logan takes third place with an $18 million (£14.5 million) take in its third weekend on release.
Horror film Get Out and The Shack round out the new top five in fourth and fifth place, respectively.
Jordan Peele's Get Out now boasts a domestic total of $133 million (£107 million), the highest ever for a black writer/director with his feature filmmaking debut, according to TheWrap.com.
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