'Beauty And The Beast' Producers Build Business On Happy Endings

Tomas Mccoy
March 18, 2017

Disney's live-action Beauty and the Beast film is finally, finally, finally hitting US theaters today. It's also a subtle nod to the baggage that this production brings with it.

"Someone once said to Walt Disney that you make movies for kids, and he said, 'No I don't".

Belle, as portrayed by Emma Watson, was shockingly one of the weaker performances in the movie.

The ticketing service Fandango reports that "Beauty and the Beast" has outsold last year's biggest hit, "Finding Dory" as well as one of the other hottest titles: "Captain America: Civil War". In addition to the favorites, such as the dashing candle Lumiere (Ewan MacGregor) and officious clock Cogsworth (Ian McKellen), this new version adds the theatrical harpsichord Cadenza (Stanley Tucci). But the prince is not a nice guy, and when a wizened visitor begs to be allowed in by offering him a ideal rose, he cruelly casts her aside. He leaves a major character for dead and turns on another.

The casting of Emma Watson as the irrepressible Belle is the key, as the young veteran of the "Harry Potter" franchise has the beauty and can convey the heart and compassion required to make audiences fall in love once again with one of the most popular characters in movie history. The actress has become a feminist icon, thanks to her days as Hermione in the Harry Potter movies as much as her off-screen political activism.

Subscribe now to receive Entertainment Weekly's The Ultimate Guide to Beauty and The Beast special issue, featuring the casts and creators of the new film and the animated classic, free with your order. Why is she in the provincial town? When her father runs into trouble at a cursed castle, Belle goes to save him only to find that the castle's objects come to life and that the Prince-turned-Beast is not as bad as she thought. His big number - delivered while dancing and fighting on tabletops with his adoring aide-de-camp LeFou (Josh Gad) - is a giddy, amusing high point, and welcome respite from the gloom of the Beast's Gothic-slash-rococo castle. The star of the film talks about bringing more of an inventor background to the library-loving character. "He's confused about what he wants", Condon continued. It's a heightened mix of reality and fantasy, a mix of CGI and real actors who seem like they've been scrubbed until gleaming.

Ditto for the sudden arrival of the Beast as a growling and angry animal.

Dan Stevens of "Downton Abbey" fame is good enough as the Beast, though being hidden beneath his animal form and having his voice altered to sound more beastly lessens the impact he can have on the role.

EW premiered the first look at the cast with a behind-the-scenes investigation of Beauty and the Beast, complete with secrets from the United Kingdom set.

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