It wasn't too long ago that the month of March wasn't exactly seen as the home to box office juggernauts, but that all changed seven years ago when Disney's Alice in Wonderland opened huge with $116.1 million. Just a few years later, Lionsgate positioned its new franchise The Hunger Games in March, where it opened to the tune of a record-breaking $152.5 million, and last year, that record was broken by Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice's $166.1 million. This year, Disney's Beauty and the Beast could very well vie for that record, but while it will easily come out on top this weekend, we're predicting this live-action fairy tale adaptation will arrive just short of the record, with $139.7 million.
Last month, box office analysts predicted that Beauty and the Beast could open around $120 million, while Disney itself was downplaying those projections, with their own internal estimates placing their debut at $100 million. Box Office Mojo reports that Beauty and the Beast will open in over 4,000 theaters, although an exact theater count won't be made available until later this week. It still likely won't come close to the all-time record for widest release, The Twilight Saga: Eclipse's 4,468-theater debut, a record which has stood for the past seven years. Still, it won't need to break the theater count record to trounce its only competitor this weekend, Blumhouse Tilt's The Belko Experiment, which is expected to open in approximately 1,350 theaters.
As of now, both of these new releases are critical hits, with Beauty and the Beast scoring a 69% Fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes, with 53 Fresh reviews and 24 Rotten reviews, and The Belko Experiment just barely on the Fresh side with 60%, although only out of 10 reviews, with six positive and four negative. While The Belko Experiment was a hit with festival audiences when it debuted during the Toronto Film Festival's Midnight Madness section, it remains to be seen how mainstream audiences and critics alike will take to this R-rated workplace thriller. We're predicting that The Belko Experiment will round out the top 5 with $8.5 million, behind holdovers Kong: Skull Island in a distant second place with $29.8 million, Logan in third place with $21.4 million and horror hit Get Out in fourth place with $13.6 million
The story and characters audiences know and love come to spectacular life in the live-action adaptation of Disney's animated classic Beauty and the Beast, a stunning, cinematic event celebrating one of the most beloved tales ever told. Beauty and the Beast is the fantastic journey of Belle, a bright, beautiful and independent young woman who is taken prisoner by a Beast in his castle. Despite her fears, she befriends the castle's enchanted staff and learns to look beyond the Beast's hideous exterior and realize the kind heart of the true Prince within. The film stars Emma Watson as Belle, Dan Stevens as the Beast, Luke Evans as Gaston, the handsome, but shallow villager who woos Belle, Kevin Kline as Maurice, Belle's father, Josh Gad as LeFou, Gaston's long-suffering aide-de-camp, Ewan McGregor as Lumière, the candelabra, Stanley Tucci as Maestro Cadenza, the harpsichord, Audra McDonald as Madame de Garderobe, the wardrobe, Gugu Mbatha-Raw as Plumette, the feather duster, Hattie Morahan as the enchantress and Nathan Mack as Chip, the teacup. The cast is rounded out by Ian McKellen as Cogsworth, the mantel clock and Emma Thompson as the teapot, Mrs. Potts.
Directed by Bill Condon based on the 1991 animated film, Beauty and the Beast, the screenplay is written by Stephen Chbosky and Evan Spiliotopoulos and produced by Mandeville Films' David Hoberman, p.g.a. and Todd Lieberman, p.g.a. with Jeffrey Silver, Thomas Schumacher and Don Hahn serving as executive producers. Alan Menken, who won two Academy Awards (Best Original Score and Best Song) for the animated film, provides the score, which includes new recordings of the original songs written by Menken and Howard Ashman, as well as three new songs written by Menken and Tim Rice.
Written by the acclaimed writer/director James Gunn (Guardians of the Galaxy, Slither) and directed by Greg McLean (creator of the Wolf Creek franchise), The Belko Experiment is a terrifying, provocative and at times hilarious thrill-ride that literally provokes the question; what does it take to survive at work? From Orion Pictures, The Belko Experiment stars John Gallagher Jr. (The Newsroom, 10 Cloverfield Lane), Tony Goldwyn (Scandal), John C. McGinley (Stan Against Evil, Scrubs), Adria Arjona (True Detective), Josh Brener (Silicon Valley) and Michael Rooker (Guardians of the Galaxy). The film was directed by Greg McLean and executive produced by James Gunn and Peter Safran (The Conjuring 1&2, Annabelle). The Belko Experiment cast also includes Melonie Diaz, David Dastmalchian, Gail Bean, Valentine Miele, Owain Yeoman, Steve Agee and Sean Gunn, the brother of writer-producer James Gunn.
The top 10 will be rounded out by The Shack ($5.2 million), The LEGO Batman Movie ($4.6 million), Before I Fall ($1.9 million), Hidden Figures ($1.8 million) and John Wick: Chapter 2 ($1.4 million). Also opening in limited release is the long-awaited sequel T2: Trainspotting, which will have expansions on March 24 and March 31 respectively, Well Go USA's thriller Bluebeard, Freestyle Releasing's Burn Your Maps and Broad Green Pictures' Song to Song, the latest from from celebrated director Terrence Malick. It isn't clear if Bluebeard, Burn Your Maps or Song to Song will expand in the weeks ahead.
Looking ahead to next week, four new movies will arrive in wide release, with Lionsgate's Power Rangers reboot, Warner Bros.' theatrical remake of the hit TV series CHiPs, Sony's sci-fi thriller Life and River Rain's sports drama Slamma Jamma all hitting theaters. Also opening in limited release is Fox Searchlight's Wilson, Submarine Deluxe's documentary I Call Him Morgan, Monterey Media Inc's drama The Leveling and FIP's romantic comedy Phillauri. Take a look at our box office projections for the weekend of March 17, and check back on Sunday for the box office estimates.