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'Beauty and the Beast' smashes records with towering $170 million debut

By: JAKE COYLE, AP Film Writer
March 19, 2017 Updated: March 19, 2017 at 11:41 am
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From left, actor Josh Gad, Dan Stevens, actress Emma Watson and Luke Evans pose during a photo call for "Beauty and the Beast" in Paris, Monday, Feb. 20, 2017. (AP)

NEW YORK — Disney's live-action "Beauty"was a beast at the box office, opening with an estimated $170 million in North American ticket sales and setting a new high mark for family movies.

According to studio estimates Sunday, "Beauty and the Beast" blew past the previous record-holder for G- or PG-rated releases. Last year, Disney's "Finding Dory" debuted with $135 million.

"Beauty and the Beast," made for about $160 million, is the latest effort by Disney to re-create one of its animated classics with live action and digital effects. It follows previous remakes such as "Cinderella," ''Maleficent" and last year's "The Jungle Book."

This "Beauty and the Beast,"  directed by Bill Condon, found widespread acclaim and some backlash for including what Condon called Disney's first openly gay character.

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