This November will mark a full 25 years since the release of Disney’s animated masterpiece Beauty and the Beast hit theaters for the first time. The film upon its release was incredibly well-received by critics and audiences, making it the first animated movie in history to receive a nomination for Best Picture at the 1992 Academy Awards. (It would be another 18 years until another animated film would receive a Best Picture nomination — Pixar’s Up, followed by Toy Story 3). Beauty and the Beast would quickly go on to become a massive hit for the Walt Disney Company, which at the time was on the verge of a new renaissance of quality animated films. Within the years that followed, Beauty and the Beast would soon grow into a cultural phenomenon, spawning off a franchise of sequels, spin-off, theme park attractions, and even a live-action remake, due early next year.
When Disney’s masterpiece was first released in 1991, it was instantly met with high praise from critics, but also marked a historic win for Disney financially, as it was the very first animated film ever to earn over $100 million domestically. At the time it was Disney’s most profitable animated film yet, ending it’s run with a domestic total of $145 million dollars and a worldwide total of $351 million. This was of course on a budget of just $25 million, so all of this meant a major win for the entire Disney company. This profound success that Disney found within the film inspired the studio to continue milking the giant cash cow that Beauty and the Beast had to offer.
In conjunction with the release of the film on November 22nd, 1991, Disney was quick to open a new stage show dedicated to the movie called Beauty and the Beast: Live on Stage for their newly opened Disney’s-MGM Studios Park. The show, still in operation to this day, opened at the Sunset Boulevard theater and retells the film’s story along with musical performances from the film. Recently, Beauty and the Beast became a permanent park of Walt Disney World with the creation of New Fantasyland, which saw the inclusion of the Be Our Guest Restaurant, Gaston’s Tavern and a smaller scale attraction, Enchanted Tales with Belle. Recently, a Beauty and the Beast attraction has been announced to open at Tokyo Disneyland in 2020, ensuring the legacy of the film is one that will live on for years to come.
In the early 90s, Disney took the spectacle of Beauty and the Beast to the stage in 1994 with the opening of the film’s Broadway adaption, which debuted at New York’s Palace Theater. Though it was met with mixed reviews, the show was a commercial success and continued to run until it held its final performance on Broadway in 2007. At the end of the show, Beauty and the Beast: The Broadway Musical had become the ninth longest-running Broadway show ever.
Over the years, Disney has become infamous for producing low-budgeted direct-to-video sequels that can generate easy profits — a trend that began with 1994’s Return of Jafar, which earned over $100 million in home video sales, thus inspiring several other direct-to- video films until John Lasseter personally put an end to them in 2007. However, Beauty and the Beast received it’s direct-to-video sequel a decade before that when Disney released Beauty and the Beast: The Enchanted Christmas — a Christmas special that takes place within the Beauty and the Beast film. Incidentally, The Enchanted Christmas will be available out of the Disney Vault for the first time since 2001 to own this November on a brand new DVD release.
Disney’s film continued to make an everlasting legacy across the globe and it’s ongoing legacy inspired the studio to make Beauty and the Beast the subject of their next live-action Disney classic retelling. The film, due in theaters on March 17th, 2017, will be directed by Bill Condon and stars Emma Watson as Belle as well as Dan Stevens portraying The Beast. The inspiration for the film came after Disney found new profound financial success in remaking their classic films, which began with 2010’s critically panned but financially impressive Alice in Wonderland. Digging deep into the library of Disney films to cash in on, the choice of Beauty and the Beast was a no-brainer for the studio. The beloved film has been a steady stream of revenue since 1991, growing to become a cultural beloved phenomenon. With just a few months to go until the release of Disney’s next take on Beauty and the Beast, Disney will continue to ensure that the legacy of this film isn’t going anywhere soon.
Beauty and the Beast 25th Anniversary Edition is Now Available on Disney Blu-Ray Combo Pack Online at Amazon.com and at your local Blu-ray retailer
Mitchell Stein is the founder and operator of the Disney-fan based website The Mickey Mindset which is a leader in delivering Disney news, articles and opinions across the company. He can be contacted by following him on Twitter @MitchellStein1.