It’s safe to say that “Beauty and the Beast” has been a huge success, both critically and commercially. According to the latest box office figures, “Beauty and the Beast” pulled in $63.7 million on its first day alone and nearly $170 million on its first three-day weekend. And that was just the domestic box office – it also pulled in record numbers internationally. This live-action musical from Disney has been a box office smash, but how did the fans react?
The hardcore Disney fans loved it
The people that Disney had to win over were the “hard-core fans” – the types of people who took their daughters dressed up in yellow Belle dresses to the film’s premiere. And, judging from the online reviews written by these self-identified “die-hard” reviewers, the film more than lived up to its advance hype.
The sentiment was nearly universal that Disney absolutely got everything right (and almost nothing wrong) with the new film. Super-fans were calling it “the best remake I’ve seen in my life.” Most were just ecstatic, calling it “perfect and beautiful.”
The adults savored the nostalgia
In many ways, this live-action remake of the acclaimed 1991 animated version was for the adults as much as the kids. And, as might be expected, “Beauty and the Beast” resulted in a wave of adult nostalgia. Adults talked about how many times they cried during the movie, remembering so many different moments from their childhood. Some – referencing the lovely enchanted objects in the castle – even said that “furniture made me cry.” Nearly every adult reviewer of the film included a line like, “The film took me back to my childhood.”
Emma Watson was better than people expected
It’s not speculating too much to say that most Disney fans are probably also big “Harry Potter” fans, And for that reason, there was quite a bit of anticipation for the young and beautiful Emma Watson in the role of Belle. Would she really be able to pull it off?
By all accounts, Emma Watson was much better than people expected. Some may have been less ecstatic about her singing roles in the film, but in general, they loved the nuances that she brought to Belle’s character.
In the original animated version, Belle was much more fun-loving and spontaneous and unconventional. In the film version, Emma Watson brought her own take on the character: Belle becomes a little less fun-loving (no more sliding around on library ladders!), a little more conventional (she loves “Romeo and Juliet”), and a little more self-conscious of how the townspeople view her.
People endlessly made comparisons with the animated classic
It’s only natural that fans spent much of their time hunting down all the differences and similarities with the 1991 animated classic. They focused on a few big themes. One, of course, was how the character of Belle changed in the live-action version.
Another was Belle’s romance with the Beast. Here, fans seemed to think that the new film version did a better job of explaining their relationship, and making it more believable. In the animated version, the relationship seemed to be based around things like feeding birds together. In the film version, we see Belle and the Beast reading literature together, having conversations and even flirting with each other. In short, the romance became “more real” according to fans.
Fans replayed their favorite scenes to see how they stacked up
As part of making comparisons with the 1991 original, fans also dissected key scenes from the movie to see how they stacked up. One scene that got a lot of attention was the musical number “Be Our Guest.” Most agreed that it was almost impossible to capture the magic of the animated original, but that the new version of the enchanted objects dancing and singing came as close as possible to recapturing the old Disney magic.
Another scene that came under a lot of scrutiny was the Beast’s transformation into the Prince (played by Dan Stevens). In general, it seems like fans were a bit disappointed. It was almost better when he was a CGI beast. When we saw what Dan Stevens looked like in real life, he wasn’t a big, broad-shouldered prince, but just a slim, handsome guy. Still very nice for a prince, but not quite as much as fans were hoping for.
Fans applauded the star-studded cast — even Gaston
While Emma Watson (as Belle) and Dan Stevens (as the Beast) obviously stole the show and captured most of the attention of fans, there was still plenty of praise to go around for the other actors – especially Josh Gad as LeFou, Kevin Kline as Maurice and Luke Evans as Gaston – as well as for all the other actors and actresses who provided their voices for the film, like Ian McKellen (Cogsworth), Emma Thompson (Mrs. Potts) and Ewan McGregor (Lumiere).
All in all, this was just a lovely, star-studded spectacle of a movie. It thrilled and enchanted Disney fans everywhere, and created a new generation of fans who will treasure Emma Watson as the new Belle they can aspire to be one day. Anytime you’re remaking a classic, there are risks. But Disney is Disney – and this film was just magical. They know how to make a real fairy tale adventure. It’s no wonder it’s breaking box office records.