Ever since Disney announced that the animation conglomerate would be creating a live-action version of its beloved 1991 animated film Beauty and the Beast, the public has been buzzing with excitement. The Disney version of Beauty and the Beast has been engraved in movie history as one of the most successful, due to its animation technology, which was considered advanced for its time; and the fact that it holds the distinction of being the first animated film to be nominated in the Oscars for Best Picture. Though it didn’t win, being a nominee was a milestone on its own.
So of course, Disney will have to one-up itself for the live-action version and bypassing the original, it already is. Just for the very reason that Emma Watson was tapped to play Belle, everyone is already talking about how amazing the film would be. And since Disney is well-known for its state-of-the-art CGI technology, expectations for the special effects in the new movie are through the roof. The promotional efforts for the film are well underway and even the most cynical is excited. Here are some facts to know before the new film hits the theatres.
16. The first trailer was the most viewed in history, beating ‘Fifty Shades’ and ‘Star Wars’.
Three months shy of its release date and the first full trailer of the film has already beat out previous record holders Fifty Shades Darker and Star Wars: The Force Awakens. The trailer garnered 127.6 million views the world over in the first 24 hours of the trailer’s release online. This astounding number is more than any other views for any movie trailer in history, with the Fifty Shades sequel clocking in 114 million views and previous to that, Star Wars: The Force Awakens scoring 112 million views. And to think, the 127 million views doesn’t even include China. It didn’t hurt that most of the star-studded cast members, who have millions of social media followers, likewise shared the trailer on their Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram pages, not to mention practically every major media news outlet around the world. The trailer is indeed goose bump-inducing and brings back fond memories of the original animated film.
15. It could join the $200 million club.
Because of the immense hype surrounding the film, it will surely break many a box office record, and many of these records might be shattered on its opening weekend alone. There are only three films in Hollywood history that hold the impressive distinction of joining the $200 million club, meaning these films raked in that whopping amount on its first weekend release: The Avengers (2012), Jurassic World (2015), and most recently, Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2015). The second and third films have one thing in common: they were sequels or spin-offs of a highly successful franchise and it was nostalgia that drove viewers to the theaters. Beauty and the Beast will be pulling at similar heartstrings of those who fell in love with the animated film. It doesn’t even matter what month in the year the film is being released. Whether it’s on a dead month or a hot month, people will still line up at the cinemas to see it on the first weekend.
14. Save the date: 03/17/2017
Speaking of release dates, the film’s official release date has been announced to the public: March 17, 2017. Is it an auspicious date? To the superstitious, maybe so, since the date contains two sevens, a number which is regarded as lucky and significant. But no one really knows why the producers chose this date. In the past, the best time to release a movie to guarantee box office success was always a summer month or a month leading to the summer, so that would be anytime between June and August. But nowadays, the “it” month is March. Beauty and the Beast faces some competition for the month, with Kong: Skull Island opening on March 10 and Logan on March 3. But the good news is, those other potential box office films cater to a totally different demographic and will not deter the movie goers from seeing the Disney film.
13. It has a star-studded cast.
Animation has come a long way from its early days of using voice actors to lend their services to the animated characters. Angela Lansbury was one of the first few Hollywood actors to lend her voice to an animated film when she played the beloved Mrs. Potts in the original animated version of Beauty and The Beast and made history when she sang the timeless titular song. Since then, big-budget animated films have been tapping A-list actors to voice the cartoon characters’ voices and though the new Beauty and the Beast is not fully animated, majority of its star-studded cast will only be voices for three-fourths of the movie. Emma Watson, who plays Belle, is the only live-action actor who will be physically seen throughout the entire film, along with fellow cast members Luke Evans as Gaston and Kevin Kline as Maurice. The rest of the stars will be in their cursed forms for most of the film: Dan Stevens as the Beast, Ewan McGregor as Lumiere, Ian McKellen as Cogsworth, and Emma Thompson as Mrs. Potts.
12. Was Ryan Gosling Supposed To Play ‘The Beast’?
For those who had been following the details of this film, you will recall that Ryan Gosling was rumored to be wanted for the role of The Beast. As you may already know, The Beast when Transformed into his Prince form is rather a rather good looking guy. And as great as Ryan would have been for the role, fans are now really excited with the fact that Dan Stevens, another Hollywood hunk, will be playing the role instead. It turns out, Ryan being wanted for the role may have only ever been a rumor.
You might have seen Stevens in the 2014 film A Walk Among The Tombstones or the TV show Downton Abbey. He has played various film and TV roles but we assume with him playing The Beast in Beauty and the Beast, he will be the next A list star, wanted for every male lead role. Maybe even the next Ryan Gosling?
11. ‘Olaf’ is in the movie!
Beauty and the Beast wouldn’t be the same without Gaston’s figurative lapdog, the loyal and good-hearted LeFou. He puts Gaston on a pedestal and sings his praises to the hilt in the song, Gaston and everyone was curious as to who would be cast in the role. To everyone’s great delight, Josh Gad was given the part. For those not in the know, Gad voiced everyone’s favorite snowman Olaf in another beloved Disney film, Frozen. He was also part of the original cast of the Broadway musical, The Book of Mormon. He seems to have a penchant for appearing in kiddie films because aside from playing LeFou and Olaf, he was also part of the voice cast of The Angry Birds movie. Fans of Beauty and the Beast are certainly excited to see him acting alongside Luke Evans as Gaston!
10. Emma Watson was the first and only choice for Belle.
When it was first announced that Disney would be recreating the classic animated film in live-action format, it got the whole world buzzing as to who the producers would cast in the role of Belle, who is a hero to many little girls for her strength, courage, and big heart. When it was announced that Emma Watson had landed the role, fans of the British beauty and the film were ecstatic. She was absolutely perfect for the role, not only because she shares Belle’s physical appearance of brown hair and hazel eyes, but also because of her acting prowess. She’s one of the few actors who was successfully able to break out of being typecast into a role she played in all eight Harry Potter film installments. Lucky for Watson, people see her as much more than Hermione Granger. The role of Belle will certainly open even more doors for her, career-wise.
9. Dan Stevens had to perform the role twice.
Dan Stevens has the hit period drama Downton Abbey to thank for his successful foray into Hollywood. After he opted out of his contract, he went on to accepting a variety of new roles, but perhaps his portrayal of the Beast is his biggest role yet, for the very fact that the film is one of the most highly anticipated in Disney history. Of course, for most of the film, we will not be seeing Stevens’ real self. He will be in Beast form and it’s his voice we will be hearing. He basically had to perform the role twice—once from the neck down, donned in a performance-capture suit with stilts. And for a second time from the neck up, so the cameras could capture his facial expressions. Said facial expressions were subsequently transformed through CGI into those of the Beast. The process is quite fascinating, especially when we see the finished product.
8. The cast will be using their own singing voices.
Not all movie actors are blessed with natural singing voices and so, they’re limited to non-singing parts in their film roles. But the musical film Moulin Rouge broke the mold for its actors Nicole Kidman and Ewan McGregor, who were never known to be singers. These days, it’s always a pleasant surprise to find out that a certain actor can also carry a tune and can actually sing decently. Meryl Streep was another example when she played Donna in the film Mamma Mia. There’s also Anna Kendrick in Pitch Perfect, as well as Hugh Jackman and Anne Hathaway for Les Miserables. It’s no surprise then, that the actors in Beauty and the Beast will be doing their own singing. Hopefully, their singing voices will do the beautiful songs justice, especially the titular song, which will be performed by Emma Thompson as Mrs. Potts.
7. There’s a shot-by-shot comparison of the old vs. the new.
Everyone was beyond excited when the first official trailer of the live-action film was released and enthusiasts wasted no time in doing a side-by-side of the trailer with the original animated film’s trailer. The animation of the original was already ahead of its time back in 1991 and when compared with the new film, we can see how much more technology has grown by leaps and bounds in 25 years. The trailers open with the haunting, tinkling instrumentals of composer Alan Menken and the first visual we see is the kingdom and the castle of the beast. One of the highlights of the trailer is the elaborate ballroom where Belle meets the Beast in her yellow gown vis-à-vis the ballroom in the cartoon. The new film’s ballroom has plenty more intricacies and details reminiscent of the time period, which is 18th century France. The details of the household staff’s cursed forms—Lumiere the candelabra, Cogsworth the clock, and Mrs. Potts the tea pot, among others—are also faithful to the time period and place.
6. Belle, not Maurice, is the inventor.
Given the fact that the original animated film was shown 25 years ago, it’s natural that the live-action adaptation will be incorporating some tweaks and changes, so as to keep up with the times. Perhaps one of the most significant aspects the producers wanted to tackle was feminism and how women are much more empowered today than they were twenty or thirty years ago. In the original film, Belle is depicted as a bookworm, as someone who didn’t really have an occupation other than the dutiful daughter who took care of the home that she and her eccentric inventor father lived in. But in the new movie, Emma Watson’s Belle is not just a bookworm—rather she’s the inventor in the family. *SPOILER ALERT* In the film, Belle invents a washing machine to help her do the laundry more efficiently, so as to give her more time to pour over her books.
5. There will be some new lyrics to the song, Gaston.
Very often, lyricists and composers create scores and scores of music, but only 80% of it makes it to the final cut. The process of creating the original animated film was no exception and it’s been revealed that there will be unused lyrics penned by the late Howard Ashman that will be used in the new live-action version, particularly for the song, Gaston, which will be performed mainly by LeFou (Josh Gad) and Gaston (Luke Evans). According to composer Alan Menken, the reason the lyrics didn’t make the final cut for the original film was because they were a tad risqué, not sexually, but in terms of appealing to one’s sensibilities. But 25 years later, everyone felt that the world would be more ready to hear said lyrics. Menken said that they will also include unused lyrics in other parts of the film, particularly at the end. So this is yet another thing to look forward to.
4. The yellow Belle dress will be a bit different.
Aside from the characters and the songs, perhaps the most iconic part of Beauty and the Beast is the yellow gown that Belle wears when Beast asks her on a dinner date. In the animated film, both Belle and Beast dress to the nines, putting their best foot forward for each other. The Beast is absolutely floored by how stunning Belle looks in a shimmering gown that hugs her figure and her hair styled so artfully. In the new film, Emma Watson’s Belle dress will be a little different, but no less iconic than the original dress. Made with silk and a satin finish, it glows and nicely contrasts with the light bounce that the layers of organza provide. One major difference to this dress from other dresses reminiscent of the period is that there will be no corset, a change that Watson pushed for herself because she didn’t want a dress that constricted her movements. It’s all about comfort over aesthetic for the proud feminist.
3. The film touches on current social issues.
To ensure that the live-action version is relevant to today’s social issues, it does not just feature feminist undertones. According to director Bill Condon, it will also touch on subjects that pertain to sexual identity, something that was quite close to the original animated film’s lyricist Howard Ashman’s heart. Ashman died of AIDS-related complications before the animated film hit the theatres and was sadly never able to see it come to fruition. Condon said that Ashman identified strongly with the Beast because the Beast was someone whose curse is breaking the hearts of those who love him, but there’s the hope that this “curse” could be lifted. He translated these feelings of wistfulness into the beautiful and timeless lyrics that we all know and love today. Condon says that sexual identity will be shown explicitly in the film, but how exactly it will be done, is for us to find out come March!
2. There was one important character missing in the trailer.
With such a star-studded cast, it was but expected that every actor, or at least his or her voice or animated version, would feature into the first official trailer, even for a split second. But if you watch the trailer closely, you’ll notice that there’s one person missing in the live-action version as compared to the 1991 original animated version: the Enchantress. This may have some of you stopping short and wracking your brain to try figuring out who in the world the Enchantress is. Fans of the story would know that the Enchantress is the lady who placed a curse on the prince. She’s at the beginning of the cartoon in picture format, first as an old lady, then transforming into a beautiful fairy before punishing the prince for his arrogance and cruelty and turning him into a Beast. The absence of the Enchantress from the trailer makes us all the more excited to see how they will depict her in the new movie.
1. What is the Beast’s real name?
In the original animated film, the Beast was either known just the Prince, the Beast, or Your Highness, but he was never really given a name. But what was his name? The writers never actually gave him a name when the movie was first released, but maybe due to numerous inquiries and speculation, he was given the official name of Adam, but only in the CD-ROM spin-off game, as well as the Broadway musical. Whether he will be referred to as Prince Adam in the live-action version remains to be seen. Since there will be some adjustments and updates to the new film, it’s possible that he will be mentioned, especially at the beginning of the story, when he was a young and arrogant teenage prince who was cursed by the Enchantress.