It was BEAST of a weekend for theatres with no shortage or record breaking achievements and some pretty magical numbers, but one film clearly stood out as the belle of the ball.

That's right, Disney invited audiences from across the globe to be their guest this weekend as their latest live-action animated adaptation, Beauty and the Beast, debuted to an impressive $174.8 million from domestic show houses. That in and of itself is already a feat given the film had a $160 million budget and a domestic premiere of this height is unheard of for the “live-action remake” genre. But that's just the first course for this film as it also pulled in $182.3 million from the international markets. That means within three days the film made over $357 million worldwide!

Most notable of the many records Beauty and the Beast set this past weekend was: largest March opening of all time; 7th largest opening of any film of all-time, and the largest opening for a PG-rated film. But additionally it also set records for:

  • #1 Global and domestic opening for a PG-rated film in IMAX
  • Largest Spring Opening Weekend
  • 6th largest Sunday Gross
  • 8th largest theatre average for a wide opening release
  • 14th best global opening of all time

It really wasn’t a surprise for anyone this weekend that the Disney film was the beast to beat, but I don’t think even this level of success was nearly as expected. The reason though comes down to Disney capitalizing well on the nostalgia of early twenty somethings to mid thirty-year-olds. Sure this is a great film to take your kids to, but really Disney placed their bets on young adults coming out in full force to send this movie over the top, and they clearly hit the jackpot.

The songs and cinematography are charming, the design of the film is exquisite, and the characters and cast are all lovable. If you were a die-hard fan of the original film which came out in 1995 chances are you quickly got caught up in the nostalgia of this film and Disney had you right where they wanted you. But with that said the question is what’s next for this film?

In my opinion while the film was overall enjoyable and cute and charming, it really left something wanting. Having taken such a well-known and classic story the creators of the film could really have said some interesting things with the characters and deepened them well beyond what we already knew and expected going in. But for the most part it just feels like they elevated the sub characters to help fill in the gaps of a 129-minute film while not increasing by the same margin the storylines of our two main characters.

Like really this film could have taken more creative risks like the creators of Maleficent did to really bring us a beloved story we all know but add WAY more context and depth to it. In the end it feels like Disney got lazy and just took the safe bet. Which sure, fine, that’s cool, it was still a good film, but honestly, in a month I’ll be thinking of the original film far more than I will the huge live action adaptation.

But moving on, the other newcomer from this weekend was The Belko Experiment, which despite only bringing in $4.1 million dollars opening weekend landing it at spot #7, was still a relative success given that it’s production budget was only $5 million. Yes, would studio executives liked to have seen this film perform better? Obviously, but the film really never stood a chance holding its own against the likes of Beauty and the Beast, Logan, and even Get Out. Despite being counter-programing for those first two, Get Out is still the superior film within the Horror genre. Plus, Belko fell into the same pit as did the Purge series as it presented some really interesting concepts and possible statements, but never evolved anything past the general premise. With a 48% and 43% on Rotten Tomatoes and Metacritic respectively, it looks like this experiment was a failure.

Looking ahead to next weekend we have four new films releasing nationwide that have the unfortunate fate of going up against Beauty and the Beast which I have no doubts will claim the top of the box office yet again.

First up, and maybe the only one that might have the power to give Disney a run for their money is Lionsgate’s Power Rangers. That’s right, continuing in the vein of cashing in on some serious nostalgia we have the story of five teens from Angel Grove that get chosen by fate and destiny to protect their tiny town from Rita Repulsa, an Alien that is looking to level all of the world and claim ownership over it. Based on the series that was pioneered by the TV show of the same title back in 1993, the group of kids will have to overcome their own insecurities and real-life issues before they can band together to become the iconic Power Rangers. Given the fact that this was one of my favorite shows growing up as a little kid, you better believe I’ll be seeing this movie this weekend, even if I know I’m fully getting played.

Next up with have Warner Bros. CHiPs which is also looking to capitalize on the nostalgia of its viewers as it’s a film based on the 1977-83 TV series about two California highway patrol officers and their many crazy and eccentric adventures together. In this particular film we get Jon Baker, a former motorbike rider who’s trying to get his life and marriage put back together getting thrust together with Frank Poncherello, or “Ponch” as it were, who is an undercover and hardened FBI agent who is investigating a multimillion dollar heist. Together they’ll have to learn to work and trust one another if they ever plan to accomplish both their desires. It’s very much your typical hero buddy film, but with a cast starring Dax Shepard, Michael Pena, Kristen Bell, and Adam Brody, my guess is that this might actually be a hilarious time and well worth the price of admission... and a bag of chips.

But I know what you’re thinking – what happened to creative, fresh, and original storytelling? Well, don’t you worry, we also have Sony’s sci-fi thriller Life coming to theatres which is… well actually no, it’s not creative, original, or fresh in any way. It’s the story of a team of astronauts aboard the International Space station who are performing groundbreaking studies on the first evidence of extraterrestrial life on Mars. Things turn bad and fast when the life form proves WAY more intelligent and terrifying than anyone could have conceived. If I'm being blunt it totally looks like someone put the scripts from Alien, Species, and Pandorum into a blender together and that’s how we got Life.

The final newcomer for this weekend will be River Rain’s Slamma Jamma which is a sports drama about a young man who after being released from prison where he was wrongfully incarcerated finds redemption by entering a slam-dunk basketball tournament. Despite being a film that looks like it’ll have some really important things to say about overcoming your past, oppression, and finding your way the film looks pretty rough from a film technical perspective and I’m thinking this will be anything but a dunk for the studio.

Well, that’s it for this week! There’s a lot to go see this weekend and while my money is still on Beauty and the Beast taking the number one spot for the second weekend in a row, audiences of all interest are going to have a lot to choose from. So this weekend breakout of your cabin fever, go enjoy a movie at your local theatre!

-Matthew Miller