'Beauty and the Beast' tops the North American box office with $170M

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Disney's live-action remake of "Beauty and the Beast" blasted through box office records to open with an estimated 170 million US dollars in North American ticket sales and 180 million USA dollars overseas.

According to studio estimates, it blew past Finding Dory, which was the previous record-holder for G- or PG-rated releases after it debuted with $135 million (£108m) a year ago.

"Beauty" will also beat the record set by "Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice" previous year for all-time openings in March.

Outside of a few scenes, the movie is an nearly exact remake of the classic 1991 Disney animated feature, which went on to win Oscars for best original score and best original song. That's the largest opening day for a PG movie, passing 2009's "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince".

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The 37-year-old actor says he had lost touch with how unbelievable the journey of the antagonist in the Bill Condon film was, according to the Hollywood Reporter. Overseas, the controversy surrounding Josh Gad's gay spin on LeFou did nothing to hamper the film's global box office total, with Disney estimating a $180 million haul to give "Beauty" a $350 million worldwide opening.

The domestic total exceeded what people in the industry had expected, and it broke the record for the biggest box office opening in March.

What makes it all the more surprising is that the studio is not lost for cash; Maleficent made $759 million worldwide, while Cinderella bought in $544 million and 2016's The Jungle Book made $967 million.

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