'Beauty and the Beast' Hopes to Tell a Tale of a March Opening Weekend Record
SATURDAY AM UPDATE: With an estimated $63.78 million, Disney's Beauty and the Beast topped the Friday box office, on its way to a three-day currently expected to finish anywhere from $155-162 million according to industry sources. There remains a chance it could reach Batman v Superman's $166 million, March opening record, but it's too early to tell if that will be the case. By comparison, Batman v Superman brought in $81.5 million on Friday.

Additionally, BH Tilt's The Belko Experiment brought in an estimated $1.5 million on Friday and is currently headed toward a $3.6 million opening, just a bit below the studio's hoped for $4 million. And, TriStar's limited release of T2 Trainspotting into four theaters resulted in an estimated $64,000 on Friday and is looking at a weekend around $170K-200K.

You can view the complete Friday estimates right here and we'll be back tomorrow with a full look at the weekend.

FRIDAY AM UPDATE: Disney's Beauty and the Beast is well on its way to an outstanding opening weekend as it took in a massive, $16.3 million from Thursday evening screenings at approximately 3,300 locations. Screenings began at 6PM with special fan events taking place at ~600 premium large format locations. This ranks above The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 2 and serves as the third largest preview gross for the month of March, coming in behind Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice ($27.7m) and The Hunger Games ($19.7m), which opened with $166 million and $152 million respectively. In addition, the film opened with $11.5 million internationally.

As for BH Tilt's The Belko Experiment, the film pulled in $305,000 from previews that began last night at 7PM. Comparing to previous BH Tilt titles, The Green Inferno did $275k in previews and opened with $3.5 million and The Darkness did $206k and opened with $4.95 million.

We'll be back tomorrow morning with a look at Friday estimates. You can read our complete weekend preview below.

WEEKEND PREVIEW: Thus far, 2017 is without a $100 million opener, but that will all change this weekend as Disney's latest animated classic turned live action film, Beauty and the Beast, is set to open in over 4,200 theaters in US and Canada. In addition to becoming the first $100 million opener of 2017, this "tale as old as time" may challenge Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice for the March opening weekend record and rank among the top ten all-time domestic openers. All told, this weekend will see the top twelve smash the $122 million the top twelve grossed from the same weekend last year. In fact, Beauty and the Beast should easily top $122 million all on its own.

Anticipation for Disney's Beauty and the Beast has been sky high for some time now as Disney has taken every opportunity to market the fantasy feature online and across all its media channels. As of March 6, online ticket retailer Fandango.com was reporting the film was outpacing Captain America: Civil War ($179.1m opening) in advance ticket sales while adding it was the fastest-selling family film in Fandango history (topping Finding Dory), and had already sold out hundreds of showtimes across the country well before release. Since then its sales have only continued to improve as the retailer now reports it's not only outpacing Civil War, but Avengers: Age of Ultron ($191.2m opening) and March opening record holder Batman v Superman ($166m opening). These are big comparisons and industry expectations for a domestic opening of $120+ million seems conservative against such titles.

Beauty and the Beast is debuting in 4,210 theaters, of which 400 are IMAX screens and 500+ locations will show the film in Premium Large Format. The film will also play at nearly 200 D-Box locations and over 3,500 theaters will be showing the film in 3-D. By comparison, Disney's The Jungle Book, which opened with $103.2 million last year, opened in 4,028 locations, of which 3,000+ were showing the film in 3-D. Finding Dory did open in 95 more theaters en route to its $135 million opening, but of those theaters it was playing in ~300 fewer 3-D locations and ~400 fewer IMAX screens. On top of all that, a peek at IMDb page view performance leading up to release shows Beauty and the Beast outperforming Jungle Book and Finding Dory, the latter by a rather significant margin, while at the same time pacing ahead of The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 1.

It should be mentioned, when it comes to IMDb page views Beauty and the Beast is trailing against Fandango comps Civil War, Age of Ultron and Batman v Superman, but we're not entirely certain those are the best films to look at as a comparison, though there is something to be said for nostalgia and Beauty and the Beast's built-in audience. Back in 2002 when the animated Beauty and the Beast was re-released in IMAX it brought in $25.4 million from a max number of 68 theaters. Disney took the animated classic even wider in 2012 when it was re-released in 3-D and it didn't disappoint, delivering $47.6 million. You better believe those same audiences will be showing up this weekend and then some.

Considering all factors, an opening above Dory's $135 million seems a guarantee, the question is whether or not it can eclipse Batman v Superman's $166 million, March opening record. The first sign as to how well it will perform comes Friday morning on the heels of Thursday night previews, which includes special fan events kicking off at ~600 premium large format locations nationwide. Finding Dory brought in $9.2 million on Thursday evening, The Jungle Book and Maleficent debuted with $4.2 million while films like Civil War and Age of Ultron brought in $25 million and $27.6 million respectively.

What does it all amount to? We're expecting an opening anywhere from $150-170 million, which is already well outside of the norm. If we were to simply base our prediction off historical data, we'd be more likely to expect an opening around $112-134 million, but clearly this is a film set to outperform historical standards so while we're only forecasting as high as $170 million, an opening around $180+ million doesn't seem outside the realm of possibility.

In addition to its domestic debut, Beauty and the Beast will bow in approximately 67% of the international market including Thursday debuts in Germany, Italy, Russia, Korea and Brazil; and Friday openings in Spain, the UK, China and Mexico. The film hits theaters in France on the 22nd, Australia on the 23rd and won't arrive in Japan until April 21.

Hoping to share in the weekend riches, last weekend's #1 opener, Kong: Skull Island, is looking at a second place finish this weekend around $25.6 million, signifying a 58% drop, which is on average for a film of this sort. By comparison, Godzilla dropped 67% following its $93.1 million opening.

Logan should come in third, dipping around 54% or so in its third weekend with $17.5 million as the film nears $185 million domestically. Universal's hit thriller Get Out, which has held strong for three weeks in a row, should finish fourth with a drop around 26% this weekend for a three-day around $15.3 million, pushing its cume close $135 million domestically. Rounding out the top five is Lionsgate's The Shack, which should drop around 32% or so for a third weekend around $6.8 million.

Expected to finish just outside the top five is BH Tilt's latest feature, The Belko Experiment, debuting in 1,341 theaters. As with previous releases including The Green Inferno and most recently Incarnate, the studio has chosen theaters determined to be historically frequented by die-hard genre fans and as such an opening around $4 million is the goal for the feature which carries a reported $5 million budget.

Of BH Tilt's four releases so far, only The Darkness managed to open over $4 million, pulling in $4.95 million in its May 2016 opening from 1,755 theaters. A look at IMDb page view data recently showed Belko vastly outperforming both The Darkness and Incarnate, though that margin has tightened a bit over the last couple days. Overall, we're expecting Belko might be the next title for the studio to top their target number as we're anticipating an opening just under $5 million for the thriller.

Also opening this weekend, TriStar will debut T2: Trainspotting into four theaters as the platform release will continue to expand throughout the month. The 21-years-later sequel has already grossed over $33 million internationally after first debuting in the UK back at the end of January.

Additionally, Broad Green will release Terence Malick's Song to Song into a limited number of theaters, Well Go will release Bluebeard and Freestyle will be releasing Burn Your Maps.

This weekend's forecast is directly below. This post will be updated on Friday morning with Thursday night preview results followed by Friday estimates on Saturday morning, and a complete weekend recap on Sunday morning.

  • Beauty and the Beast (2017) (4,210 theaters) - $168.0 M
  • Kong: Skull Island (3,846 theaters) - $25.6 M
  • Logan (3,687 theaters) - $17.5 M
  • Get Out (2,977 theaters) - $14.1 M
  • The Shack (2,825 theaters) - $6.8 M
  • The Belko Experiment (1,341 theaters) - $4.7 M
  • The LEGO Batman Movie (2,735 theaters) - $4.6 M
  • Hidden Figures (1,162 theaters) - $2.0 M
  • Before I Fall (1,551 theaters) - $1.3 M
  • John Wick: Chapter Two (1,065 theaters) - $1.2 M

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