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’Beauty’ proves a beast in sales, smashes records

Dan Stevens as The Beast in a live-action adaptation of the animated classic “Beauty and the Beast.” (AP)
LOS ANGELES: Disney’s “Beauty and the Beast” smashed box office records in its opening three-day weekend, taking in an unexpected $170 million, according to industry estimates.
The film, featuring “Harry Potter” veteran Emma Watson as a charming Belle to the frightening Beast played by Dan Stevens of “Downton Abbey” fame, set a record for a March opening in North America, Exhibitor Relations reported. The previous record was set last year by “Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice,” with $166 million.
“Beauty” recorded the seventh best opening overall in the United States and Canada.
Film site Fandango reported the movie had sold out at more than 1,000 showtimes in big cities and small, something more common for superhero blockbusters than for a family-oriented production.
“Disney is an awfully potent empire right now,” Exhibitor Relations’ Jeff Bock told Variety, adding that the studio “has all the other studios salivating.”
“Beauty” cost the hardly trifling sum of $300 million to make, but analysts say it should easily reach profitability. The specialized site BoxOfficeMojo estimated that Disney’s latest fairy tale adaptation may already have reached that point in worldwide sales.
“Beauty” swept aside the previous North American box-office leader, Warner Brothers’ “Kong: Skull Island;” that movie’s second-week take of $28.9 million was roughly half its opening weekend sales.
“Kong,” which has taken in $110 million since its release, tells the story of a group of explorers on a mysterious island that proves to be the frightening domain of the mighty ape.