By Frank Pallotta
NEW YORK (CNNMoney) — “Beauty and the Beast,” Disney’s live action remake of its beloved 1991 animated film, made an estimated $350 million worldwide this weekend.
Of that total, $170 million came at theaters in North America.
The domestic total exceeded what people in the industry had expected, and it broke the record for the biggest box office opening in March. The record had been held by last year’s opening of “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.” It’s also the best opening weekend of 2017 so far.
The film, which stars Emma Watson as Belle, is another blockbuster hit for Disney’s live action reboots of animated films. The franchise includes 2010’s “Alice in Wonderland,” 2014’s “Maleficent,” 2015’s “Cinderella,” and last year’s “The Jungle Book.”
“‘Beauty and the Beast’ is the latest example of Disney’s perfectly executed strategy of going to their animation vaults, dusting off a classic and reinventing it as a modern live-action movie,” said Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst at comScore.
The film’s PG rating, mid-March release, casting, and mix of both new and classic songs helped lead to the film’s big opening, Degarabedian said.
The record haul is good news for Disney since the movie had a steep $160 million production budget.
Other live action remakes in development at Disney: “Dumbo,” “The Lion King,” “Aladdin,” “Mulan” and “Pinocchio.”