Welcome to the calm before the storm. With a handful of blockbuster movies already released, and more on the way, the second weekend in April was a relatively quiet affair, with a few old favorites dominating the weekend yet again and a few new releases grabbing whatever box office they could before things get fast and furious at your local multiplex. Let’s take a look at the projected grosses through Sunday afternoon.
In a parallel universe where Paramount Pictures doesn’t alienate its fanbase, we might be talking about Ghost in the Shell as the big winner of this weekend and the de facto start of a new wave of Japanese Hollywood adaptations. Instead, DreamWorks Animation and The Boss Baby blew up the box office, no doubt delighting a handful of DreamWorks executives who watched the Ghost in the Shell controversy unfold with glasses of champagne in hand. After all, nobody’s going to boycott a movie about a baby who wears a suit.
After several weeks of limited movement, a handful of new releases prompted a pretty thorough shakeup of the Box Office Top 10. While Beauty and the Beast continued its unstoppable assault on the domestic box office, we also said hello this weekend to three new movies and goodbye to a handful of old favorites from the first few months of the year. Let’s start with the estimated numbers as of Sunday afternoon.
Once upon a time, a man with a dream turned a small animation studio into a global empire. Much of that success was built on a series of wildly popular feature films, many of which shared a common figure: A beautiful, heroic princess. The man was Walt Disney and even after he passed away in 1966, his company continued to dedicate much of its creative energy on films (and television shows and untold tons of merchandise) dedicated to princesses. The latest, a live-action version of the studio’s Oscar-nominated cartoon Beauty and the Beast, opens in theaters on Friday. In its honor, the staff of ScreenCrush (and Mousterpiece Cinema co-host Josh Spiegel) decided to rank every single Disney princess in history.
For many of us, the main draw of the new live-action Beauty and the Beast is Luke Evans’ dangerously handsome Gaston. The classic Disney villain arguably has the best song in the entire original movie, and probably the snazziest outfit of all the Disney baddies. While Belle got a bit of a character upgrade for the new movie (she is now the inventor, instead of her father, because director Bill Condon figured the townspeople need more of a reason to think she’s weird than… she reads books), Gaston also got one too, and it very well might make you like him a little.
Earlier today, it looked like the Cold War was about to ramp back up again (as if it hasn’t already) when it was announced that Russia might be banning the new live-action Beauty and the Beast because of that “exclusively gay moment” involving Gaston’s sidekick LeFou (Josh Gad). But never fear, reports of Russia’s response to the movie have been overblown (much like the response over here to that particular scene): instead of banning it outright, they’re giving it a mature rating.
In a refreshing change of pace, international tensions with Russia have increased due to something other than statements issued from the executive branch of the federal government. The latest subject of global controversy is none other than Beauty and the Beast, Disney’s new live-action remounting of the classic animated fantasy-romance. And rest assured, it’s not the sacrilege of revising the high-water mark of Disney’s ‘90s run that the Russkies are ticked off about. Not since the James Franco/Seth Rogen comedy vehicle The Interview nearly set off World War III with North Korea has Hollywood come this close to igniting a powder keg, and all because LeFou has come out of the closet.
To say that the first trailer for Beauty and the Beast was evocative of the 1991 animated classic would be an understatement; it was a live-action carbon copy, and if Disney’s remake of Cinderella was any indication, we were in for yet another tedious — if visually stunning, well-acted and beautifully-designed — exercise in nostalgia-based capitalism. But Bill Condon’s live-action update of Beauty and the Beast is more reimagining than remake, a lavish and lovely take on a familiar tale (as old as time, no doubt) that enriches its source material without betraying it, embellishing a cherished antique with modern ideas.
When director Bill Condon confirmed that his live-action Beauty and the Beast remake features a gay character, it was only a matter of time before someone made a fuss over it. Turns out, that someone is a somewhere — a drive-in theater in Alabama, where the owner is refusing to screen the new Disney film because Josh Gad’s character, LeFou, is gay.
This year’s Beauty and the Beast promises that we will see every iconic shot and dance number from the original, but now in glorious live-action. Actors whose faces we recognize will bring timeless characters to life, and sing all of the songs we loved as kids. There are a few great songs in the original movie: “Tale as Old as Time” is a classic, and “Belle” has plenty of fake French accents to try to copy, but the best scene, and the scene yours truly is anticipating the most, is “Gaston.”