“Beauty and the Beast” (Disney) should accelerate the now-surging 2017 box office: Expect to see a domestic opening above $100 million, the first since “Rogue One.” Like other recent Disney hits, it’s timed to play during staggered spring breaks.
A live-action musical based on the studio’s 1991 smash, it fills what has become Disney’s annual slot for updated children’s classics. It began with Tim Burton’s “Alice in Wonderland” in 2010, which opened to $126 million and a domestic $334 million (both adjusted) and over $1 billion worldwide. From 2013 on, they have provided a spring offering, with last year’s “The Jungle Book” topping “Alice” as the biggest so far ($364 million total domestic after opening to $103 million).
“Beauty” would exceed all of these if its opening hits the consensus guess of $130 million. That would be more than $40 million ahead of “Logan” (20th Century Fox); at $89 million, it’s currently the year’s best opening. This should bring director Bill Condon his biggest audience success, particularly worldwide. Disney certainly hopes so, since their production and costs likely total around $300 million.
Since no major film was released the same weekend last year, “Beauty” alone likely will outpace the whole top 10 of 2016. At least temporarily, that will boost year-to-date totals ahead of last year.
Most distributors steered clear, with only “The Belko Experiment” (BH Tilt) opening wide, and then in only 1,350 theaters. Another low-budget horror film (producer Jason Blum partnered with Orion Pictures to acquire this Toronto Midnight Madness premiere), the setting is a Colombian office building where workers are told it’s kill or be killed by their colleagues. Australian Greg McLean (“Wolf Creek”) directs what seems to be the kind of smart high-concept that Blum prefers (“Split” and “Get Out!” currently). It doesn’t need a high gross, so the $4 million-$5 million projected might be adequate.
“Beauty” shouldn’t do much damage to the second weekend of “Kong: Skull Island” (Warner Bros.), which will easily cross $100 million, or “Logan” (20th Century Fox), which will become the year’s top domestic release so far, or “Get Out” (Universal), which is also well over the $100 million mark. Those will accelerate an already high-end weekend.
Limited releases will see four from acclaimed directors, though none are guaranteed to reach prior levels.
Terrence Malick’s Austin-set “Song to Song” (Broad Green) continues his post-“The Tree of Life” record of diminishing critical support. His rare appearance at its South by Southwest premiere, plus its music-related story, might give it a boost along with its strong theater presence.
Danny Boyle’s “T2: Trainspotting” (Sony) has already grossed $33 million in foreign dates, with Britain understandably the biggest contributor. This sequel to his 1996 Miramax specialized crossover success (adjusted gross: $32 million) has fallen short of the acclaim the first effort, although nearly all the participants returned. It marks a rare studio limited initial release outside of awards season.
Among subtitled films, “Frantz” (Music Box), which opened Wednesday in New York, is Francois Ozon’s remake of Ernst Lubitsch’s 1932 classic “Broken Lullaby.” An anti-war film set in and after World War I, “Frantz” received 11 nominations at France’s 2016 Cesar Awards.
“After the Storm” (Film Movement), the latest release from Japanese director Hirokazu Koreeda, is also receiving strong critical support. It opens in New York and Los Angeles.