The news that Disney’s remake of “Beauty and the Beast” would turn Gaston’s sidekick LeFou into a gay character made waves in Russia, but not enough to stop them from heading to the theater to see it.
Despite calls for a ban because of its “gay propaganda” and being hit with a 16+ rating by the country’s film board, Bill Condon’s remake had a strong opening weekend in Russia, making an estimated $6 million as part of the film’s $180 million international box office start.
Even if the backlash from Moscow had resulted in “Beauty” being a bust in Russia, it wouldn’t have made much of a difference in the grand scheme of things. As TheWrap reported last week, Russia was eighth among international markets when ranking box office yields for “The Jungle Book,” with Russia only accounting for roughly 3 percent of the Jon Favreau film’s $600+ million overseas haul.
The Russian total for “Beauty and the Beast” is less than that of its remake predecessor, as “Jungle Book” made $8.1 million. But the Russian “Beauty” opening is more than double that of 2015’s “Cinderella,” which made $2.6 million in its first weekend in that market.
Of course, China had the beast’s share of the international total with a $44.8 million opening weekend, bigger than the entire Chinese run of “Alice In Wonderland” and “Maleficent.” But “Beauty” also enjoyed great success in the U.K., making $22.8 million across the pond. That sets a new British record for the biggest opening weekend for a PG-rated film and ranks the fifth highest of all-time. The film’s cast played a big role, as it was filled with Britain’s biggest stars including Emma Watson, Ewan McGregor, Ian McKellen, Emma Thompson and Dan Stevens in his first major post-“Downton Abbey” role.
“Beauty” also enjoyed $10 million-plus openings in markets like Mexico, Korea, Brazil and Germany. Its $180 million overseas total is the second-highest for a March film behind only “Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice,” which made $256.5 million. It also set March opening records in Albania, Austria, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Croatia, Czech Rep, Denmark, Finland, Macedonia, Norway, Slovenia, Switzerland and Ukraine.