Even Beastly films can generate Beautiful revenues
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Even Beastly films can generate Beautiful revenues

“You and your kids want Happily Ever After? Dust off the DVD of the 1991 original.” This was the opinion of Ty Burr, film critic at the Boston Globe, and one of Rotten Tomatoes ‘Top Critics’, in regards to Disney’s latest live animation remake, Beauty and the Beast. To be fair to Disney, he’s in a minority. Although he gave the film a paltry 2 out of 4, the majority of critics seemed to like it.

But guess what? It doesn’t matter (well, to investors, anyway – your daughter may disagree). Disney will still rake in huge numbers from the box office, and it will sell countless merchandise units to little girls (and probably their mums, who are likely to have grown up with Burr’s beloved 1991 animation) all over the world. Even if it’s awful.

Of course, it won’t be awful. When you say a Disney film is “awful” what you really mean is it’s not as good as the studio’s best work – which is, frankly, some of the greatest entertainment in the world.

That’s why audiences are willing to take a punt on whatever the company puts out: even if it’s not the best stuff they’ve done, it is guaranteed to be well-written, big budget, and family friendly. And, it will almost certainly star your kids’ favourite actors and give you some birthday present inspiration.

In the last few years, Disney has played with live action updates to its animated canon more than once. The most recent addition to this stable of films is the live action Jungle Book. A resounding success with audiences, the film raked in $364 million in domestic ticket sales (US). If Beauty and the Beast matches that, it will have grossed twice as much as this year’s top release!

Maleficent, another foray into the live action world starring Angelina Jolie as the titular character – the dastardly villain from Disney’s 1959 Sleeping Beauty – was less well received by critics, ranking a decidedly average 50% on Rotten Tomatoes. But it still brought in a very respectable $241.4 million at the US box office.

Beauty and the Beast opened this week, so we won’t have to wait too long before we get some figures over how well its done. And of course, the real money-spinner for Disney is likely to be merchandising. With the phenomenal hype surrounding this film, a lot of little girls are going to be wanting Belle dolls over the next few months.

Dominion holds The Walt Disney Company in its Global Trends Luxury Fund. 

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