"Beauty And The Beast" - Photocall
Emma Watson and Dan Stevens attend the photocall for "Beauty And The Beast" at The Corinthia Hotel on February 24, 2017 in London, England.  Photo by Dave J. Hogan—Getty Images

Disney’s New ‘Beauty and the Beast’ Could Break Box Office Records

Walt Disney's first new movie release of 2017 is already looking like a box office blockbuster.

The company's live-action remake of Beauty and the Beast doesn't hit theaters until March 17, but the highly-anticipated movie is already racking up an impressive number of ticket pre-sales. According to Deadline, online ticket seller Fandango says its ticket pre-sales for the new movie are outpacing the pre-sales for two of Disney's biggest 2016 hits: Finding Dory and Captain America: Civil War.

That's a good sign for Disney, considering that Finding Dory pulled in $135 million in its domestic opening weekend last June, a month after Civil War debuted to $179 million in its own opening weekend, according to Box Office Mojo. Both movies went on to gross more than $1 billion worldwide, making them two of 2016's biggest blockbusters, helping to propel Disney's film division to a record-breaking year.

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A similarly huge opening for Beauty and the Beast would put Disney on the path to another big year at the box office. Prior to Fandango's touting of the movie's ticket pre-sales, various estimates had predicted that Beauty and the Beast's opening weekend would land around $120 million. An opening that approaches last year's Civil War debut would give Beauty and the Beast a shot to top March's all-time record box office opening, set last year by Warner Bros.'s Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice ($166 million).

The new Beauty and the Beast, which stars Emma Watson and Dan Stevens, is an adaptation of the Academy Award-winning animated film of the same name that Disney released in 1991. The animated version made nearly $425 million at the global box office 26 years ago (which more than $750 million in today's dollars).

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The new film courted controversy recently, when director Bill Condon revealed that the movie features Disney's first "exclusively gay moment" with the character LeFou, portrayed by actor Josh Gad. While Condon went on to call reactions to the scene in question "overblown," his revelation has led to some calls to boycott the film.

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