Disney's 'Beauty and the Beast' soars in China, a hit with young female audiences

Walt Disney’s hit live-action fantasy “Beauty and the Beast” continued its global waltz, drawing huge business in the world’s second-largest film market.

The musical, directed by Bill Condon, earned $44.7 million in its first three days in China, the single biggest contributor to foreign ticket sales, according to film industry consulting firm Artisan Gateway. It’s also the biggest live-action debut for a Disney film in China.

“Beauty and the Beast” drew a massive $170 million over the weekend in the United States and Canada for a global total of $350 million.

The film’s success in China was widely anticipated, given the popularity of its stars. Emma Watson, who plays Belle in the film, is a household name in China. And “Downton Abbey” star Dan Stevens, who plays the Beast, is affectionately known among Chinese moviegoers as Dabiaoge, the “big cousin.”

Disney worked to attract young Chinese moviegoers by inviting pop stars Hebe Tien and Jing Boran to sing a Chinese version of the “Beauty and the Beast” theme song. The song, released on Chinese video streaming site Tencent Video, was a hit among young female consumers even before the movie hit theaters.

As in North America, “Beauty and the Beast” benefited from strong audience response. It received a positive review on China’s fan rating site Douban, with 7.5 out of 10. But the remake didn’t surpass the 1991 original animated movie, which garnered an 8.5 score.

A distant second at the box office was Amblin’s “A Dog’s Purpose” with $21.5 million in ticket sales last week, bringing its 17-day total to $75.6 million. The film is the first collaboration between China’s Alibaba Pictures and Steven Spielberg’s Amblin Entertainment.

“Logan,” the “X-Men” spinoff produced by 20th Century Fox production, claimed third place with $13.6 million in its third week running, for a 17-day total of $101.1 million.

Rounding out the top five last week were: “Resident Evil: The Final Chapter,” which garnered $6.1 million; and “xXx: Return of Xander Cage” which took in $1.7 million.

Yang is a special correspondent.

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