‘Beauty and the Beast’ Smashes Records With Towering $170 Million Debut

This is what makes Disney such a powerhouse.

“Beauty and the Beast,” the studio’s latest live-action update of a cartoon classic, waltzed its way to a towering $170 million debut this weekend, setting a new record for a March opening and solidifying the Mouse House’s status as the dominant player in the film business. No other company can match the streak that Disney is currently enjoying, thanks to a series of multi-billion acquisitions that put the likes of Pixar, Marvel, and Lucasfilm in its Magic Kingdom. Last year, the studio accounted for more than a quarter of all domestic ticket sales, and 2017 brings the release of sequels to “Guardians of the Galaxy,” “Cars,” and “Thor,” in addition to “Beauty and the Beast.”

“I don’t know if they made a deal with the devil, but Disney is an awfully potent empire right now,” said Jeff Bock, an analyst at Exhibitor Relations. “You continue to shake your head and roll your eyes, but they can do no wrong right now and that has all the other studios salivating.”

“Beauty and the Beast” represents another part of Disney’s branded strategy. It’s the latest fairy tale adaptation to hit screens. Others in the lucrative group include “Alice in Wonderland,” which picked up $1 billion worldwide; “Cinderella” with its $543.5 million global haul; and last year’s “The Jungle Book,” which racked up a mighty $966.6 million after finishing its run. Remakes of “Dumbo” and “Mulan” are already in the works, as Disney commits to putting a live-action spin on the bulk of its animated properties (Fans of “Treasure Planet” may be out of luck).

The latest fairy tale follows Belle, a bookish girl in France played by Harry Potter film veteran Emma Watson, who helps a tortured Beast (Dan Stevens of “Downton Abbey” fame) break out of his shell. In the process, she lifts a curse that’s left the Beast’s kingdom populated by talking household items. “Beauty and the Beast” didn’t muck about with the elements that made the 1991 film so beloved. Director Bill Condon kept the basic plot intact, while fleshing out a bit more of Belle’s backstory, and retaining a soundtrack that includes “Be Our Guest” and “Belle.” All those elaborate musical numbers and chatty cutlery don’t come cheap. “Beauty and the Beast” carries a hefty $160 million budget. It should make that money back manyfold after ticket sales are tallied and new lines of princess wear are whipped up to satisfy new generations of Belle lovers.

“Beauty and the Beast’s” appeal cut across the generations, while its feminist heroine, a brainy, headstrong villager who refuses to conform, resonated with younger women. Sixty percent of ticket buyers were female, while families accounted for half of the opening weekend audience. Children under 12 made up 22% of the crowd, while people between the ages of 26 and 34, the same demographic reared on the animated film, comprised 21% of the audience.

“The elements came together to make this into a can’t miss event,” said Dave Hollis, Disney’s distribution chief. “There was massive nostalgia for the original film. Parents loved the movie and they wanted to show this one to their kids and share that experience.”

Most major studios steered clear of “Beauty and the Beast.” The only other new release of note, “The Belko Experiment,” debuted to $4.1 million, which its backers say is success given its model. The film boasts a unique distribution strategy. “The Belko Experiment” opened in 1,341 locations, roughly a third of the theater count for a major studio offerings. The theaters are chosen because they are more popular with horror fans. Orion, an MGM label, backed the film and is distributing it with BH Tilt. That label is overseen by “The Purge” and “Insidious” producer Blumhouse. It’s trying to find more cost-efficient ways to bring smaller films to the masses. “The Belko Experiment” follows a group of American corporate types, who are locked in a high-rise office in Bogotá, Colombia. They are ordered by a voice on the intercom to kill one another in a gray flannel-version of Social Darwinism.

With “Beauty and the Beast” dominating ticket sales, last weekend’s champ, “Kong: Skull Island,” fell 53% to $28.8 million. That pushes the monster movie’s domestic haul to $110.1 million. Warner Bros. and Legendary Entertainment teamed up to produce the remake of King Kong.

Fox’s “Logan” took third place, pulling in $17.5 million and bringing the R-rated superhero tale’s stateside total to $184 million. Universal and Blumhouse’s “Get Out,” a thriller about a black man whose girlfriend’s white family holds a sinister secret, nabbed fourth position. It made $13.2 million, bringing its gross to $133.1 million. With a budget of $4.5 million, the film is one of the year’s most profitable. Lionsgate’s “The Shack” rounded out the top five generating $6.1 million and pushing the faith-based drama’s earnings to over $42.6 million.

In limited release, “T2 Trainspotting,” a sequel to the 1996 cult comedy about a group of heroin addicts, opened in five locations, earning $180,000. Ewan McGregor reprises his role as a drug-addict Scot. The actor also has a supporting turn playing Lumiere, a candlestick, in “Beauty and the Beast.” Sony is releasing “T2,” which is heavily geared towards European audiences. The drama has already made $34 million overseas.

From Variety

Walt Disney Studios Announces Release Date for Indiana Jones 5

Indiana Jones will return to the big screen on July 19, 2019, for a fifth epic adventure in the blockbuster series. Steven Spielberg, who directed all four previous films, will helm the as-yet-untitled project with star Harrison Ford reprising his iconic role. Franchise veterans Kathleen Kennedy and Frank Marshall will produce.

“Indiana Jones is one of the greatest heroes in cinematic history, and we can’t wait to bring him back to the screen in 2019,” said Alan Horn, Chairman, The Walt Disney Studios. “It’s rare to have such a perfect combination of director, producers, actor and role, and we couldn’t be more excited to embark on this adventure with Harrison and Steven.”

Famed archaeologist and explorer Indiana Jones was introduced in 1981’s Raiders of the Lost Ark – one of AFI’s 100 Greatest American Films of All Time – and later thrilled audiences in 1984’s Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, 1989’s Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, and 2008’s Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. The four films have brought in nearly $2 billion at the global box office.

Star Wars.com Announces Video Release Dates for Rogue One

StarWars.com is excited to deliver some special rebel intel: Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, the thrilling tale of how the Rebellion stole the Death Star plans, is officially coming home. (Just don’t tell Director Krennic.)

The film will arrive in a variety formats, including Digital HD on March 24, and Blu-ray, DVD, and On-Demand on April 4. Take a first look at the box art below.

Blu-ray/DVD/Digital HD combo pack
Blu-Ray/DVD/Digital HD combo pack
DVD
                              DVD

A wide array of bonus features, ranging from never-before-seen cast and creator interviews to a look at hidden Easter eggs, will take fans deeper into Rogue One than ever before:

  • A Rogue Idea – Hear how ILM’s John Knoll came up with the movie’s concept – and why it’s the right film to launch the Star Wars stand-alone films.
  • Jyn: The Rebel – Get to know Rogue One’s defiant, resourceful survivor, and hear what it was like for Felicity Jones to bring her to life onscreen.
  • Cassian: The Spy – Diego Luna shares insights into his complex, driven character, who becomes a hero through selflessness, perseverance and passion.
  • K-2SO: The Droid – Explore the development of this reprogrammed Imperial droid, from initial pitch and character design through Alan Tudyk’s performance.
  • Baze & Chirrut: Guardians of the Whills – Go deeper into the relationship between these two very different characters, with Chinese superstars Jiang Wen and Donnie Yen.
  • Bodhi & Saw: The Pilot & The Revolutionary – Forest Whitaker and Riz Ahmed reflect on Saw Gerrera, the broken Rebel leader, and Bodhi Rook, the Imperial pilot who defects.
  • The Empire – Meet a dangerous new Imperial adversary…and cross paths once more with the most iconic villain of all time. 
  • Visions of Hope: The Look of “Rogue One” – The filmmakers describe the challenges and thrills of developing a bold new look for the movie that can fit within the world of the original trilogy.
  • The Princess & The Governor – See what it took to bring the vibrant young princess of Star Wars: A New Hope – as well as one of her most memorable foes­ – back to the screen.
  • Epilogue: The Story Continues – Filmmakers and cast celebrate Rogue One’s premiere and look forward into the future, to the Star Wars stories yet to be told.
  • Rogue Connections – Uncover Easter eggs and film facts hidden throughout the movie that connect Rogue One to the Star Wars universe.

Digital bonus offerings may vary by retailer.

RETAILER EXCLUSIVES

In addition, a selection of retailer exclusives will be available for pre-order starting February 23, featuring unique packaging and configurations:

  • Target Exclusive: 5-disc set includes collectible packaging with interchangeable character covers and exclusive bonus content (Blu-ray 3D + two Blu-ray + DVD + DVD exclusive content – 2 additional bonus features + Digital HD + collectible packaging)
  • Best Buy Exclusive: 4-disc set with exclusive SteelBook packaging (Blu-ray 3D + two Blu-ray + DVD + Digital HD + SteelBook packaging)
  • Walmart Exclusive: 3-disc set with exclusive K-2SO packaging and two Galactic Connexions trading discs (two Blu-ray + DVD + Digital HD + K-2SO packaging + two Galactic Connexions trading discs)

Get a sneak peek at each retailer exclusive packaging below.

rogue-one-target-digipack

5-Disc Target Exclusive

rogue-one-bby-steelbook

4-Disc Best Buy Exclusive SteelBook

rogue-one-bd-combo-pack-wmt

3-Disc Walmart Exclusive

DISC SPECIFICATIONS:

FEATURE RUN TIME: Approximately 133 min.
RATING: PG-13 in U.S.; PG in CE; G in CF
ASPECT RATIO: 
Blu-ray 3D Feature Film =2.39:1
Blu-ray Feature Film = 2.39:1
DVD Feature Film = 2.39:1
AUDIO:
Blu-ray = English 7.1 DTS-HDMA, English 2.0 Descriptive Audio, French and Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital Language Tracks
DVD = English, French and Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital, English 2.0 Descriptive Audio Language Tracks
LANGUAGES: English, French & Spanish
SUBTITLES: English SDH, French & Spanish

Rogue One, from director Gareth Edwards, has become the seventh highest-grossing film of all time in the US, garnering two Academy Award nominations.

Prepare to go on the mission again.

 

James Earl Jones and Donald Glover Cast in Disney’s Live-Action “Lion King”

Donald Glover is going to be the mane event in Disney’s live-action version of “The Lion King.” And he’ll be joined by an actor whose voice is as legendary as they come.

Glover has been cast as Simba in the studio’s new take on the 1994 animated classic.  James Earl Jones has also come aboard the project. He will play Mufasa, reprising the role he previously voiced.
Matthew Broderick and Jonathan Taylor Thomas shared the role of Simba in the animated film, voicing the older and younger versions of the character, respectively.
Director Jon Favreau broke the news on Twitter.  He tweeted a picture of Glover with a caption referencing “Lion King” tune, “I Just Can’t Wait to Be King.”  A subsequent tweet was accompanied by a photo of Jones.  “Looking forward to working with this legend,” he wrote.
Disney later confirmed the casting news in a press release.
The high-profile role will add yet another job to Glover’s already full plate.  In addition to starring in and executive producing FX’s “Atlanta,” Glover just inked an overall deal with the network in January under which he will develop new series.  He was also cast as young Lando in the Han Solo standalone film late last year.
Jones joins the project after just recently reprising another famous voice role of his — Darth Vader in “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.”
Favreau signed on to direct the live-action “Lion King” film in September, hot off the success of his “Jungle Book” reimagining.
“The Jungle Book” grossed $966 million worldwide.
From CNN

Angela Lansbury Joins Cast of ‘Mary Poppins Returns’

In practically perfect news, Disney Legend Angela Lansbury has joined the cast of Mary Poppins Returns! The sequel to Walt Disney’s 1964 classic is currently filming at the Shepperton Studios in London and stars Emily Blunt (Into the Woods) as the title character. Lin-Manuel Miranda, an Oscar® nominee for penning Moana’s “How Far I’ll Go,” plays the role of optimistic street lamplighter Jack. Lansbury will play the role of Balloon Lady.

Lansbury is beloved to Disney fans for her iconic roles as the wonderfully witchy Ms. Eglantine Price in Bedknobs and Broomsticks and the enchanting Mrs. Potts in the animated Beauty and the Beast. The five-time Tony® Award winner and three time Academy Award® nominees was inducted as a Disney Legend in 1995.

Directed by Rob Marshall (Into the Woods), Mary Poppins Returns also stars Ben Whishaw and Emily Mortimer as grown up Michael and Jane Banks, as well as Meryl Streep, Colin Firth, and Julie Walters.

Disney Signs Niki Caro to Direct Live-Action Mulan Movie

Disney’s live-action adaptation of the 1998 animated musical Mulan will be directed by Niki Caro (The Zookeeper’s Wife), according to The Hollywood Reporter.

Caro will be the fourth woman to ever solo-direct a film with a budget over $100 million, joining a very tiny club that includes Kathryn Bigelow (K-19: The Widowmaker in 2002), Patty Jenkins (Warner Bros. upcoming Wonder Woman movie), and Ava DuVernay (Disney’s upcoming A Wrinkle in Time). Disney, by merit of hiring two women to direct blockbusters ever in its history, is somehow leading the pack for major Hollywood studios.

Hollywood studios have begun to feel the pressure to hire more female directors for tentpole films, after multiple controversies around the hiring of young, comparably untested male directors for massive projects like Jurassic World and Star Wars, as well as a federal investigation of sexist hiring practices in the industryLucasfilm head Kathleen Kennedy was also recently the subject of heated criticism due to her comments about the “search” for a female director capable of handling a Star Wars movie.

Disney has also expressed its intent to hire a woman to direct its first female-led superhero film, Captain Marvel. Caro had previously been included on the studio’s short listalongside Lesli Linka Glatter (the principle director on Homeland) and Lorene Scafaria (Nick & Norah’s Infinite PlaylistThe Meddler), though The Hollywood Reporter suggests this new assignment likely takes Caro out of the running for the 2019 film.

Caro made her breakthrough critical hit Whale Rider in 2002, following it up with the star-studded North Country (Charlize Theron, Frances McDormand, Sissy Spacek) in 2005, but — as is typical for female directors in Hollywood — her career largely idled after that. Since 2005 she’s released only two films: the low-budgetoverlooked TIFF submission The Vinter’s Luck in 2009 and Disney’s moderately successful McFarland, USA in 2015.

Mulan will be executive produced by Bill Kong (best known Stateside for House of Flying Daggers and Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon) and rely on input from Chinese cultural consultants and the large co-production team that Disney maintains with Shanghai Media Group. It will be interesting to see how Disney navigates the more culturally delicate live-action project, particularly considering the fact that it also has a live-action Aladdin on its plate. Big studios have a nasty habit of casting famous white faces in roles that shouldn’t belong to them — see the recent uproar over Scarlett Johansson in Ghost in the Shell or Rooney Mara as Pan’s Tiger Lily.

Mulan is set for release on November 2, 2018. It will likely be a treat to watch a young woman perform a live musical number that snarkily defines masculinity around violence and endurance as part of an ongoing dramatic irony bit.

From The Verge

The Official Title For STAR WARS: EPISODE VIII Revealed

The title for Episode VIII of the Skywalker Saga has been announced on StarWars.com.

The statement on the website says –

We have the greatest fans in this or any other galaxy. In appreciation of the fans, we wanted them to be the first to know the title of the next chapter in the Skywalker saga: STAR WARS: THE LAST JEDI.

THE LAST JEDI is written and directed by Rian Johnson and produced by Kathleen Kennedy and Ram Bergman and executive produced by J.J. Abrams, Jason McGatlin, and Tom Karnowski.

star-wars-the-last-jedi

STAR WARS: THE LAST JEDI is scheduled for release December 15, 2017. 

‘Rogue One: A Star Wars Story’ Hits $1 Billion in Worldwide Box Office

Disney-Lucasfilm’s “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story” has surpassed the $1 billion milestone at the worldwide box office, becoming the 28th title and 13th Disney film to do so.

“Rogue One” needed 39 days to cross the mark with $512 million domestically and $499 million internationally. It’s the third “Star Wars” movie to gross more than $1 billion, joining “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” ($2.07 billion) and “Star Wars: Episode I: The Phantom Menace” ($1.03 billion).

“Rogue One” is also Disney’s fourth 2016 release to cross the $1 billion mark, joining “Captain America: Civil War,” “Finding Dory,” and “Zootopia.” It’s the top domestic grosser released in 2016 and ranks seventh on the all-time list.

The tentpole took in $7 million at 2,603 North American sites in its sixth frame and another $9 million internationally over weekend. The U.K. is the top market at $79.4 million, followed by China with $61.3 million, Germany with $44.8 million, Japan with $36.8 million, France with $35.8 million, and Australia with $35.6 million.

“Rogue One” is directed by Gareth Edwards and stars Felicity Jones, Diego Luna, Donnie Yen, Forest Whitaker, and Jiang Wen. The eighth “Star Wars” movie is set immediately before the events of the original “Star Wars” with rebels attempting to steal plans for the Death Star weapon.

Disney also announced that its animated “Moana” has crossed the $500 million mark worldwide, with an estimated $237 million domestically and $272 million  internationally.

From Variety

 

Disney Issues Statement about Carrie Fisher Appearing in Future “Star Wars” Movies

When Carrie Fisher passed away on December 27th, 2016 there was a major disturbance in the Force. Fisher wasn’t just Princess General Leia in Star Wars, but a force herself to be reckoned with in Hollywood. Her memory will certainly live on, especially when it comes to Star Wars — and in an unprecedented move, Star Wars has released a statement about the future of Carrie Fisher and the film franchise.

Shortly after her death, it was revealed that Carrie had completed all her scenes for Star Wars: Episode VIII. But what about Episode IX? That movie is still years away from hitting the big screen, and Disney and Lucasfilm met this week to figure out how to finish off the trilogy without Carrie. Knowing that we’ve all seen Rogue One by now (and spoilers ahead if you haven’t seen it) there were rumors that Disney and Lucasfilm might try to digitally recreate Carrie, like the did at the very end of Rogue One.

According to a statement released:

We don’t normally respond to fan or press speculation, but there is a rumor circulating that we would like to address,” the statement up on StarWars.com reads. “We want to assure our fans that Lucasfilm has no plans to digitally recreate Carrie Fisher’s performance as Princess or General Leia Organa. Carrie Fisher was, is, and always will be a part of the Lucasfilm family. She was our princess, our general, and more importantly, our friend. We are still hurting from her loss. We cherish her memory and legacy as Princess Leia, and will always strive to honor everything she gave to Star Wars.

Sing-Along Version of Disney’s MOANA Sails into Theaters January 27th

The epic journey continues for MOANA fans as Walt Disney Animation Studios introduces an all-new sing-along version of the hit, critically-lauded comedy-adventure MOANA coming to theaters nationwide Jan. 27, 2017. Additionally, the original theatrical version of the film will release digitally Feb. 21 and on Blu-ray March 7.

Fans are invited to warm up those vocal cords and set sail with an all-new sing-along version of “Moana” launching in more than 2,000 theaters nationwide on Jan. 27 and exclusively at Hollywood’s El Capitan Theatre on Jan. 20.

“Moana” audiences were swept away by the film’s original songs and score from a dynamic team that includes Tony®-, Emmy®- and Grammy®-winning songwriter Lin-Manuel Miranda (Pulitzer Prize- and Tony-winning “Hamilton,” Tony-winning “In the Heights”), Mark Mancina (“Tarzan,” Broadway’s “The Lion King”) and Opetaia Foa’i (founder and lead singer of the award-winning world music band Te Vaka).

The sing-along version of “Moana” includes the full feature film with on-screen lyrics, so audiences can belt out the words to their favorite songs, such as the Golden Globe®-nominated “How Far I’ll Go.” Moviegoers can check local listings for showtimes and theaters; the sing-along run will vary by location.

Walt Disney Animation Studios’ 56th animated feature opened domestically on Nov. 23, 2016, BECOMING the No. 2 Thanksgiving debut ever with $82 million. The film continues to delight audiences around the globe, earning more than $225 million domestically and $450 million worldwide to date. The film has a 95% score on Rotten Tomatoes and an “A” CinemaScore.

“Moana” has received, thus far, nominations for BAFTA, PGA, Golden Globe® and a Critics’ Choice Movie Award for best animated feature. The film’s uplifting soundtrack has dominated the music charts for more than six weeks, peaking at No. 1 on the iTunes Albums chart; it is currently No. 1 on Billboard’s Top Album Sales chart and No. 2 on the Billboard 200 album chart. The soundtrack is available wherever music is sold and at streaming services.

At Hollywood’s El Capitan Theatre, the “Moana” sing-along will begin Jan. 20, one week prior to the nationwide opening. Daily showtimes are at 9:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. Tickets are available at El Capitan Theatre (6838 Hollywood Blvd.), by calling 1-800-DISNEY6 (347-6396) or online at http://www.elcapitantickets.com.

Audiences can soon enjoy the original theatrical version of the film at home and packed with a variety of bonus extras when “Moana” arrives on Digital HD/3D and Disney Movies Anywhere (DMA) on Feb. 21, and on Blu-ray 3D, Blu-ray, Digital SD, DVD and On-Demand on March 7.

From Broadway World