Besides thriving on innovation and being kept alive by the quest for a new and exciting story to tell, the film industry depends on one very important element to survive: money. It's a concept many of us are familiar with in our own lives, but as a movie studio Disney is dealing with a lot more moolah than the average individual. This weekend proved that more than ever, as Beauty and The Beast broke all expectations and March box office records to become the highest opening film of the month. So naturally, the studio wants to stay in the good graces of the money gods, and some sort of follow-up to Beauty and The Beast seems like a good idea. It just may not be exactly what you'd guess.
Disney producer Sean Bailey had some words with Deadline about the prospects of revisiting the universe of that tale as old as time, and his statement was extremely measured, yet very optimistic. Although a direct sequel to Beauty and The Beast may not be in the works, the company is specifically looking at the prospects of both spin-offs and prequels. Currently, the studio is not committed to any official plans for a Beauty and The Beast follow-up. Which, perhaps, makes this the best time to weigh the pros and cons of that particular coin, especially considering this weekend's box office tally could probably seal the deal related to future projects.
If you look at the prequel or spin-off options as a positive, then there's some interesting avenues that one could take with the universe of Beauty and The Beast. A particularly interesting one comes from our own Eric Eisenberg, who theorized that a merging of the two concepts would be the best route to go, as it would allow audiences to explore the backstory between Gaston and Lefou's experiences in wartime. With a fresh set of songs, and a darkly comic story, the adventures of the would-be villains stand to be a refreshing change of pace for Disney, as well as the prospective franchise itself.
However, on the negative side of the spectrum, we could eventually see sub-par products that try to force the magic of Beauty and The Beast into a story that just doesn't work. Obviously, the specter of films like Alice Through The Looking Glass still haunts the studio, and just because Disney got lucky with its latest round of nostalgia doesn't mean the company will definitely want to press its luck. With plenty of classics still waiting for live-action re-dos, it's not like Disney needs a sequel to any particular project that has been revisited. Though we wouldn't be surprised if Beauty and The Beast became the top priority for a second round, putting Maleficent 2 and Jungle Book 2 on the back burner.
Ultimately, it's about giving the people what they want, and if enough people indicate they do or don't want a Beauty and The Beast follow-up, Disney will more than likely listen to the sentiments of the public. So should another tale from Belle and The Beast's universe make its way onto the production schedule of the house that Walt built, rest assured it's there because you folks wanted it. Or, at least, enough of you saw this remake to indicate that there was a demand for such an event to occur.
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