‘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.

D23 Gold Member Exclusive – Walt Disney Studios Tour

D23 Members have the rare opportunity to enjoy a two-and-a-half-hour tour of The Walt Disney Studios. This exclusive experience includes a visit to Walt Disney’s office suite and the Walt Disney Archives.
Tours will take place at The Walt Disney Studios on April 8th at 9 a.m., 9:30 a.m., 10 a.m., 10:30 a.m., 12:30 p.m., 1 p.m., 1:30 p.m., and 2 p.m. Check-in will begin outside the Hyperion Bungalow at The Walt Disney Studios 30 minutes before your tour.

The cost of the tour is $75 per person (plus $5 processing fee). Tickets will go on sale on Thursday, March 9, at 10 a.m. PT. Please check here for ticketing link.


The tour is only available to Gold and Gold Family Members. You will be required to show a photo ID. Members will be required to show their D23 Membership Card.

Join your D23 tour guide on a stroll through the original Animation building, where beloved animated films (including Cinderella, Lady and the Tramp, and The Jungle Book) were created; see the historic soundstages used for filming such Disney live-action movie classics as 20,000 Leagues Under the SeaMary Poppins, and Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl; plus explore the beautiful Disney Legends Plaza, which honors those who have made significant contributions to the Disney legacy. Many guests will also recognize the exterior spaces on the lot, which have been featured in productions from the Mickey Mouse Club and The Absent-Minded Professor to Saving Mr. BanksMuppets Most Wanted, and ABC’s black-ish!

Then, explore the rich legacy and historical collections of The Walt Disney Company during a tour of the Walt Disney Archives and Walt Disney’s restored 3H office suite, filled with original furnishings, awards, and items from the master showman’s personal collection. Upon exiting the suite, all guests will receive an exclusive pin to commemorate this memorable experience.

Guests will also have the opportunity to shop at the Disney Studio Store and purchase items only available on the Studio lot!

D23 Gold and Gold Family Members may reserve a ticket for themselves and one (1) guest. Due to the nature of this experience, children under the age of 10 are not able to partake in The Official Walt Disney Studios Tour—Presented by D23. Only confirmed ticketed attendees will be able to enter The Walt Disney Studios on April 8, 2017.

D23 Members will be required to provide their membership number when reserving tickets. Tickets may be picked up only with a valid photo ID AND D23 MEMBERSHIP CARD. D23 Members who do not bring their membership card may not be admitted to the event. Ticketed members who do not attend the event forfeit their place as well as all experiences, benefits, and gifts associated with the event. All D23 Special Events are subject to change without notice. There are no cancellations or refunds, and tickets are not transferable.

Electric Convenience Vehicles (ECVs) will not be permitted inside Walt Disney’s office suite. Guests utilizing a wheelchair will need to transfer to a wheelchair supplied by the Walt Disney Archives. Photography and video recording will be permitted during portions of the tour, but flash photography and recording of any kind will not be permitted inside Walt Disney’s office suite.

PLEASE BE ADVISED: Filming, photography, and other recording will take place at The Walt Disney Studios during the event you will be attending. The Walt Disney Company will be taking photos and filming at The Walt Disney Studios located at 500 S. Buena Vista Street, Burbank, California. By entering the premises, you irrevocably consent to and authorize The Walt Disney Company, its affiliates, successors, and assigns (collectively “Producer”), to photograph you, make sound recordings of you, and use such photographs and recordings throughout the world, for any purpose whatsoever in perpetuity, including, but not limited to, television broadcasts and home entertainment products, including, but not limited to, home video and DVD. All such photographs and sound recordings will be the sole property of Producer.

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

Tyrus Wong, Pioneer ‘Bambi’ Artist, Dies at 106

Tyrus Wong, whose paintings served as visual inspiration for Disney’s animated classic “Bambi,” died Friday, Dec. 30. He was 106.

Wong’s death was announced on his Facebook page.

“With heavy hearts, we announce the passing of Tyrus Wong,” the post read. “Tyrus died peacefully at his home surrounded by his loving daughters Kim, Kay and Tai-Ling. He was 106 years old.”

Wong was born in China before immigrating to the Bay Area at age 9. From there he went to art school on a scholarship followed by accepting a low-level animation job in 1938. After hearing about Walt Disney’s “Bambi” project he put together some paintings of deer in a forest, which impressed Disney enough to use them as inspiration for the film. The animated classic isn’t all Wong is known for though, he’s also worked on film’s like “Rebel Without a Cause, “The Green Berets,” and “The Wild Bunch.”

In 2001, Wong was named a Disney Legend, and in 2013 he had his artwork featured in the Walt Disney Family Museum. In October of this year Wong received two honors at the Asian World Film Festival. He was awarded with a lifetime achievement award on the opening day with the following day (his 106th birthday) being the screening of the documentary about him titled “Tyrus” directed by Pam Tom.

Wong is survived by his daughters Kim, Kay and Tai-Ling.

From Variety

‘Rogue One’ Officially Makes Disney Hollywood’s First $7 Billion Studio

An impressive opening weekend for Rogue One: A Star Wars Story was more than enough to help Walt Disney capture a new Hollywood record for yearly global box office gross.

The company said on Monday that Walt Disney Studios will set an industry record today by becoming the first Hollywood studio to top $7 billion in global movie ticket sales in a single calendar year. For Disney, which had already bested its own single-year record for box office revenue by November, Rogue One‘s $290.5 million global opening easily pushed the studio’s overall 2016 haul to record heights. The previous yearly box office record belonged to Comcast’s Universal Studios, which pulled in $6.9 billion worldwide just last year.

Disney ruled the movie market in 2016 with a series of blockbusters throughout the year that put the studio within close grasp of a new record heading into a weekend in which the latest Star Wars product from its Lucasfilm division was expected to dominate the global box office. And, Rogue One‘s strong showing is a fitting way for Disney to end its big year, considering that 2016 kicked off with Star Wars: The Force Awakens continuing its own dominant box-office run. (Released on Dec. 18 of last year, The Force Awakens ultimately grossed $2.07 billion worldwide for Disney, with a large chunk of that coming in 2016 and counting toward this year’s tally.)

Following up on The Force Awakens‘ record-setting success, Disney churned out no less than three movies that went on to gross more than $1 billion globally—the animated hit Zootopia, Marvel’s Captain America: Civil War, and Pixar’s Finding Dory. Meanwhile, Rogue One is forecasted to join that list with what should also end up being a worldwide haul north of $1 billion. Other big movies for Disney this year include The Jungle Book, Marvel’s Doctor Strange, and another animated hit in November’s Moana.

While not all of Disney’s 2016 releases struck box office gold—Alice Through the Looking Glass and The BFG led the list of disappointments—the studio managed to find success across all of its silos. Whether it was live-action and animated movies—or those produced by previously-acquired units Pixar, Lucasfilm, and Marvel Studios—Disney churned out a variety of mega-blockbusters throughout 2016.

“This historic achievement is possible because all of our film studios are bringing their absolute best to the table, telling great stories of all kinds that resonate with audiences across borders, gender, and generations,” Alan Horn, chairman of The Walt Disney Studios, said in a statement.

The film studio’s success has come at an opportune time for Disney, which needed a silver lining for a year in which subscriber losses at cash-cow cable network ESPN and declining advertising sales continued to weigh on the company’s revenue. Disney’s big year also comes amid what should be another record year for Hollywood in general. The industry is on pace to break the yearly box office record set in 2015, when Hollywood studios topped $11 billion in domestic ticket sales for the first time ever.

From Fortune.com

 

Disney and Jon Favreau Joining Forces on “The Lion King”

We can officially confirm that The Walt Disney Studios and director Jon Favreau are putting a new reimagining of The Lion King on the fast track to production. The project follows the technologically groundbreaking smash hit The Jungle Book, directed by Favreau, which debuted in April and has earned $965.8 million worldwide. 

The Lion King builds on Disney’s success of reimagining its classics for a contemporary audience with films like MaleficentCinderella, and The Jungle Book. The upcoming Beauty and the Beast, starring Emma Watson as Belle, is already one of the most anticipated movies of 2017. Like Beauty and the BeastThe Lion King will include songs from the animated film. Disney and Favreau are also in development on a sequel to The Jungle Book. No release date has been announced for either film. 

The Lion King (1994) is one of the biggest animated films of all time with a lifetime global box office gross of $968.8 million, including $422.8 million domestically. It won Academy Awards for the original song “Can You Feel the Love Tonight” (Elton John, Tim Rice) and original score (Hans Zimmer), plus two Grammy Awards, with the soundtrack selling over 14 million copies. In 1997, the stage production The Lion King made its Broadway debut, winning six Tony Awards; 19 years later, it remains one of Broadway’s biggest hits alongside several other productions running around the world, including London, Hamburg, Tokyo, Madrid, Mexico City, Shanghai, and North America. Translated into eight different languages, its 23 global productions have been seen by more than 85 million people across every continent except Antarctica. The Lion King’s worldwide gross exceeds that of any film, Broadway show or other entertainment title in box office history.  

Keira Knightley to Play Live-Action Sugar Plum Fairy in Disney’s ‘The Nutcracker’ 

Keira Knightley will star as the Sugar Plum Fairy in Disney’s retelling of “The Nutcracker.”

Mackenzie Foy is on board to play Clara, with Misty Copeland and Morgan Freeman also attached to the movie.

The live-action film — based on E.T.A. Hoffmann’s 1816 story “The Nutcracker and the Mouse King” — is titled “The Nutcracker and the Four Realms.” In the pic, one of Clara’s Christmas toys — a Nutcracker doll — comes to life and battles the evil Mouse King with seven heads.

Russian composer Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, and choreographers Marius Petipa and Lev Ivanov turned Alexandre Dumas’ adaptation of the classic story into the “The Nutcracker” ballet in 1892.

Lasse Hallström will direct the upcoming film from Ashleigh Powell’s script. Mark Gordon is producing, while Lindy Goldstein is executive producing. Sam Dickerman and Allison Erlikhman are overseeing the project for Disney. Sara Smith is working on behalf of the Mark Gordon Company.

Knightley has a long history with the studio that began with the “Pirates of the Caribbean” franchise. She was most recently seen in the Working Title ensemble disaster film “Everest.” Her New Line dramedy “Collateral Beauty,” also starring Will Smith and Kate Winslet, opens this December.

 From Variety

Disney Reportedly Working on Reboot of ‘The Rocketeer’

The Rocketeer is ready to blast off once again.

Walt Disney Studios is developing a reboot of the 1991 action adventure movie, hiring Max Winkler and Matt Spicer to pen the script, which is being titled The Rocketeers.

The project, in the early development stages, is considered a sequel-reboot and, in a modern-day twist, will be headlined by a black female character.

Brigham Taylor, who produced The Jungle Book with Jon Favreau, is producing along with Blake Griffin of the L.A. Clippers and Ryan Kalil of the Carolina Panthers. Griffin and Kalil are partners in a new venture called Mortal Media and approached Taylor with the idea for the reboot.

Rocketeer was based on the popular 1980s indie comic by Dave Stevens and, like Star Wars and Raiders of the Lost Ark, was a loving homage to the serials of the 1930s and 1940s.

The story followed Cliff Secord, a stunt pilot who discovers a rocket pack and suit to die for and become embroiled with mobsters and Nazis, as well as Howard Hughes and the FBI.

The Joe Johnston-directed movie starred Billy Campbell as Secord, Jennifer Connelly as his aspiring actress (a Betty Page homage) girlfriend, Timothy Dalton as an Errol Flynn-type actor who is a Nazi spy and Alan Arkin as Secord’s mechanic.

When the movie was released, it grossed only $46.6 million and came in fourth in its opening weekend (it was pummeled by Robin Hood: Prince of ThievesCity Slickers and Dying Young). Its performance was considered a disappointment by the studio and its creative team.

But a rare thing happened: The movie took on a life of its own, engendering a massive following who loved its un-ironic, bright and straightforwardly heroic take on characters, all abetted by a score by James Horner.

When Disney hosted a 20th anniversary screening of the movie in Hollywood’s El Capitan Theatre in 2011, fans — many in Rocketeer costumes — lined up for blocks.

It was around that time that the studio began mulling a reboot of the movie, but sources said it sought a way to differentiate it from another rocket-propelled flying hero: Iron Man.

The new take keeps the story in a period setting and offers a fresh view on the characters. Set six years after the original Rocketeer and after Secord has vanished while fighting the Nazis, an unlikely new hero emerges: a young African–American female pilot, who takes up the mantle of Rocketeer in an attempt to stop an ambitious and corrupt rocket scientist from stealing jet-pack technology in what could prove to be a turning point in the Cold War.

Tendo Nagenda and Chaz Salembier are overseeing the project for Disney.

Winkler, the son of Fonzie actor Henry Winkler, wrote and directed the 2010 indie comedy The Ceremony,which starred Michael Angarano and Uma Thurman. He has also directed episodes of Brooklyn Nine-Nine,and New Girl.

Spicer is Winkler’s producing and writing partner. The two have a coming-of-age drama titled Flower, with Zoey Deutch and Adam Scott, in postproduction, which Winkler directed. They also wrote Magic Camp for Disney and The Adventurer’s Handbook for Focus.

From The Hollywood Reporter

Netflix Exclusive Disney Movie Deal in U.S. Kicks In This Fall

Netflix’s exclusive deal with Disney for pay-TV window rights to the Mouse House’s movie titles in the U.S. will commence in September.

Under the pact — signed three and a half years ago — Netflix will become the exclusive U.S. pay-TV home of the latest films from Disney, Marvel, Lucasfilm and Pixar, chief content officer Ted Sarandos wrote in a blog post Monday. Currently, Starz has the “pay one” output rights to Disney titles in the States.

Netflix’s U.S. rights cover Disney movies starting with 2016 theatrical releases, which means American streaming subs will not have access to “Star Wars: The Force Awakens.” Instead, Starz will have streaming rights to the blockbuster space epic in the U.S.

Zootopia

Disney’s 2016 movie slate includes “Zootopia” as well as “The Jungle Book,” “Captain America: Civil War,” “Alice Through the Looking Glass,” “Finding Dory,” Steven Spielberg’s “The BFG,” “Pete’s Dragon,” “Doctor Strange,” “Moana” and “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.”

“The 2016 (Disney) releases will start rolling on in September and we’ll share specific dates/titles closer to their premiere on the service,” a Netflix rep said.

Meanwhile, Netflix also disclosed that several older Disney titles will be leaving the service in June. Those include “Hercules” (June 1) as well as “Mulan” and “Hunchback of Notre Dame” (June 24); Disney movies that will remain include “Tarzan,” “Robin Hood,” “Lilo & Stitch” and “Emperor’s New Groove.”

Emperor's New Groove

In Canada, Netflix’s output deal with Disney began with 2015 releases after the previous agreements for the pay-TV window with Corus Entertainment and Bell Canada expired (which means subs in the Great White North will have access to “Force Awakens”).

Star Wars Force Awakens

From Variety