It’s Monday, and if you’re lunching with Emma Watson today, the bill is on her.
Hello from Los Angeles, where we’re tallying a box-office Beast, reading Robert Redford’s mail, and polishing Haim Saban’s star.
A BEAUTY OF AN OPENING
How does Disney love the box office? Let me count the ways. The Burbank studio’s live-action retelling of Beauty and the Beast opened at $170 million domestically and $350 million globally, breaking multiple records. As VF.com’s Joanna Robinson e-mails:
Disney can give extra thanks to bright young women for a massive haul; 72 percent of the opening-day audience was female and 45 percent was under the age of 25. So don’t expect Disney’s appetite for live-action reboots of their hit princess narrative to slow down any time soon. And in an era where superhero films—like Logan and Deadpool—have been scoring big by going for a darker R-rated vibe, Beauty and the Beast just broke a record for keeping things clean. It squeaked past Batman v Superman’s $166 million to land the biggest March and bested Finding Dory’s $135 million to become the most profitable opening for a PG-rated film.
Watson’s paycheck is tied to the box-office performance of the film, according to The Hollywood Reporter’s Tatiana Siegel, and the 26-year-old British actress stands to make up to $15 million if Beauty and the Beast matches Maleficent’s final global tally of $759 million, which seems likely to happen in record time as schools head into spring break in coming weeks.
EXCLUSIVELY GAY DOLLARS
Disney’s big weekend follows the dustup over Beauty and the Beast’s “exclusively gay moment,” a brief scene of two men dancing that inspired Malaysian censors to try and cut the film, Russian cultural authorities to slap a 16+ rating on it, and an Alabama drive-in owner to pull Beast from the schedule. As CNN’s Brian Lowry tweeted of the record-breaking box office, “Well, that homophobic theater owner in Alabama sure showed them.”
The censorship story is still unfolding: Disney has declined to release the film with Malaysia’s proposed cuts, and on Tuesday, an appeals committee in the Southeast Asian country will meet to consider whether to allow audiences there to see the full version. Some Malaysians are getting their LeFou fix anyway—journalist Umapagan Ampikaipakan and his friends took a road trip to neighboring Singapore to see the movie. In a Facebook Live video they shot outside the theater and hashtagged #CanonBelleRun, Ampikaipakan said he found the subtext pretty subtle, and the movie “no more gay or less gay” than cross-dressing scenes in Malay dramas he saw growing up.
THE POWER BEHIND THE POWER RANGERS
Meanwhile, another movie is breaking barriers—Lionsgate’s new Power Rangers movie will be the first big-budget superhero movie to feature an L.G.B.T. protagonist, reports T.H.R.’s Aaron Couch.
The L.A. Times’s Meg James has a colorful profile of Haim Saban, the Egyptian billionaire behind the franchise that has yielded 831 television episodes, billions of dollars in toys and merch, and the $100 million reboot arriving in movie theaters this week. Saban, one of Hollywood’s biggest Democratic contributors, will receive a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame this week. “At first I thought, maybe it was a mistake, a kind of Oscar-snafu where they give the prize to the wrong person,” Saban told James. “I consider myself a cartoon schlepper, and for a cartoon they gave me a star. I’m humbled and grateful.”
STICK ‘EM UP
VF.com’s Yohana Desta e-mails:
The Sundance Kid has something to say. On Sunday, Robert Redford penned an open letter about the importance of the National Endowment for the Arts, which “played a fundamental role” in helping him create the Sundance Institute. Donald Trump recently proposed to eliminate funding for the N.E.A., a decision that has received backlash from the artistic community and beyond.
“The proposed defunding of the N.E.A.’s budget would gut our nation’s long history of support for artists and arts programs and it would deprive all our citizens of the culture and diversity the humanities brings to our country,” Redford writes. “This is entirely the wrong approach at entirely the wrong time.” He then calls on supporters to get in touch with their local congressmen and add their voices to the “chorus of concerned citizens”—which includes one Julie Andrews. You can read the rest of Redford’s impassioned letter here, on the Sundance Institute’s site.
QUOTE OF THE DAY: STACEY SNIDER
Twentieth Century Fox film boss Stacey Snider spoke at U.C.L.A. Law School’s 41st annual Entertainment Symposium over the weekend. In a Q&A with L.A. film czar Ken Ziffren, Snider copped to the challenges of running a studio in an era of rapid technological change, but noted, “We love our devices, but none of my devices are any good to me if I didn’t have good shit to watch.” Deadline’s Dominic Patten has the highlight reel.
That’s the news for this cloudy Monday in L.A. What are you seeing out there? Send tips, comments, and artisanal jewelry from the Sundance Catalog to firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow me on Twitter @thatrebecca.