Beauty and the Beast may be a tale as old as time, but it's still quite the moneymaker. Of all the live action remakes of classic Disney animated movies that are in the pipeline, this has been one of the more highly anticipated ones, which is understandable given how incredibly its animated predecessor performed back in 1991. Beauty and the Beast is now in theaters, and it's already off to a great start financially, taking in $16.3 million in Thursday night screenings.

Early predictions placed Beauty and the Beast at earning between $12-$14 million in domestic screenings last night, but as Deadline reports, it exceeded those expectations. Not only that, but the fairy tale adaptation has also already broken several records. Not only is this the biggest one-night opening of the year so far, it's also the best opening for a live action Disney movie, surpassing Cinderella's $2.3 million, Maleficent's $4.2 million and The Jungle Book's $4.2 million. Beauty and the Beast's performance last night also made it the second biggest opening for a PG movie and the third biggest March "preview" ever, trailing behind Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and The Hunger Games. As for its international performance so far, Deadline also reports that it walked away from screenings elsewhere across the globe with $11.5 million.

Beauty and the Beast Belle and Beast dancing

It's not too surprising to see Beauty and the Beast kicking off so well. As one of the earlier entries of the Disney Renaissance period that lasted from 1989 to 1999, the animated Beauty and the Beast is still regarded as a cinematic masterpiece, especially since it won nominated for four Academy Awards (including Best Picture, which was the first time an animated movie was a contender in that category) and walked away with two. Throw in the fact that a lot of the folks who were kids/pre-teens when the animated movie came out are now adults, so you have nostalgia working overtime to draw crowds into theaters to see the new Beauty and the Beast.

If these Thursday night screenings are any indication, Beauty and the Beast is primed to be a box office powerhouse this weekend. Fandango has already noted that literally thousands of showings are already sold out both in major cities and smaller towns. So unless you've already preordered your tickets, you may find it difficult to snag seats tonight, Saturday and maybe even Sunday. Critically, Beauty and the Beast has been performing decently, currently ranking at 69% on Rotten Tomatoes among critics. Regular audiences so far seem to be enjoying it even more, with Rotten Tomatoes' audience score resting at 83% and Screen Engine/ComScore's PostTrak showing that Thursday night audiences gave it a score of 88% with 4.5 stars. Disney clearly has another hit on their hands.

You can go see Beauty and the Beast in theaters now to experience Disney's latest offering of cinematic fairy tale magic. And if you haven't already, you can read our review of the movie here.

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