March 2017 Is First $1 Billion March in Domestic Box Office History

CinemaCon 2017: This month saw a huge tentpole opening every weekend

Beauty and the Beast

March saw the openings of “Beauty and the Beast” and “Logan,” among other tentpoles, catapulting this month to be the first $1 billion March in domestic box office history.

Disney’s live-action remake of the 1991 classic, on its own, opened to $170 million and has since grossed $319 million domestically and is expected to hit $1 billion globally soon. Fox’s “Logan,” starring Hugh Jackman in his final stint as The Wolverine, opened to $88.4 million and has since grossed $201 million domestically. And other tentpole films “Kong: Skull Island,” “Power Rangers” and “Ghost in the Shell” contributed largely to give March 2017 its record.

After all, “Beauty and the Beast” also nabbed the record for biggest March opening of all time. Last year, both Disney’s “Zootopia” — the rare animated hit that wasn’t a sequel or based on a familiar story — and Warner Bros.’ “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice” grossed more than $300 million; and “Batman v Superman” broke the record for March openings with $166 million — at the time.

Earlier this month, TheWrap reported that over the past few years, March has become a home for major blockbusters like “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice” and “Zootopia” — but this year’s March is highly unusual, given that the industry is releasing a tentpole every weekend.

You could say that studios have been pushing to open blockbuster films in March since the modestly budgeted “The Hunger Games” opened to $152.5 million in 2013 — launching a hugely successful franchise that made a major star out of a then relatively unknown Jennifer Lawrence.

The following year, a total of four March releases — “Divergent,” “Mr. Peabody & Sherman,” “300: Rise of an Empire” and “Noah” — crossed $100 million at the box office.

The majority of films released in March can’t be considered studio tentpoles either in production budget or star wattage; many are family-oriented projects geared to audiences seeking diversions during spring holidays like Easter.

Until now, perhaps. March has clearly established itself as a studio launching pad going forward. Slated for release in March next year is “Deadpool 2,” Alicia Vikander’s rebooted “Tomb Raider,” “Wreck-It Ralph 2” and “Peter Rabbit.”

And in 2019, “How to Train Your Dragon 3,” “Captain Marvel” and “Godzilla 2” are all slated for the third month of the year.