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‘Beauty and the Beast’ Soaring to Epic $165 Million Opening at Box Office

UPDATED: “Beauty and the Beast” is already having a magical weekend at the nation’s multiplexes with an estimated opening of upwards of $165 million already in sight, estimates showed Friday.

Disney indicated on Friday afternoon that it expects the live-action musical to finish in a range between $140 million to $155 million, before raising projections to $155 million to $165 million in the evening.

Beauty and the Beast” had already banked nearly $40 million at noon PDT with pre-sales and a stellar $16.3 million from Thursday night previews. The first-day total approached $60 million to $63 million in the evening.

The new numbers blow away earlier forecasts from Disney, which had indicated earlier in the week that “Beauty and the Beast” would open to more than $120 million domestically this weekend at 4,210 locations. The film — the only new film opening wide — should add between $80 million and $110 million in international box office as Disney is launching in about 70% of markets.

Disney reported that “Beauty” took in $11.5 million internationally on Thursday, led by $1.8 million in Brazil, $1.2 million in South Korea, $1.1 million in Germany and $1 million in Italy. Opening day box office numbers from China showed “Beauty and the Beast” taking in a solid $14.5 million on Friday, including previews.

The most optimistic forecasts issued earlier in the week had “Beauty” finishing with the best March opening ever for the domestic box office, eclipsing last year’s $166 million launch for “Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice” — which was the eighth-best opening of all time.

Audiences surveyed by comScore/Screen Engine’s PostTrak gave “Beauty and the Beast” a stellar reception with 61% rating it as “excellent” and another 27% rating it as “very good.”

Disney spent $160 million making the movie, directed by Bill Condon.  The cast includes Emma Watson as Belle and “Downton Abbey” alum Dan Stevens as her cursed love interest.

Reviews have been mostly positive with a current 68% “fresh” rating on Rotten Tomatoes. “Beauty and the Beast” will be by far the biggest domestic launch of 2017, easily outpacing the $88 million opening for “Logan” two weeks ago. “Logan” posted the best Thursday night number of $9.5 million.

The second weekend of Warner Bros.-Legendary Entertainment’s “Kong: Skull Island” should lead the rest of the pack with about $24 million, followed by the third weekend of Fox’s “Logan” in the $18 million range and the fourth weekend of Universal-Blumhouse’s “Get Out” with $13 million.

Blumhouse’s BH Tilt label launched Orion Pictures’ “The Belko Experiment” with  $305,000 in Thursday night previews. The horror thriller, which centers on Americans trapped in a high-rise building in Bogota, Colombia, expands to 1,341 North American sites Friday and is expected to take in $4 million this weekend.

VIDEO: Emma Watson and Cast on the Making of ‘Beauty and the Beast’

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