DISNEY’s new film Beauty and the Beast made history this week by topping the all-time box office record in the Philippines.
The film had chalked up gross P667.46 million (US$13.5 million) by Wednesday and overtook Marvel’s Captain America: Civil War, reportedPhilstar.
The film is a live-action remake of Disney’s 1991 classic animation of the same title, and features a high-profile cast including Emma Watson, Luke Evans, Ewan McGregor, Ian McKellen and Emma Thompson.
Beauty and the Beast grossed US$170 million over its first screening weekend in North America, breaking the previous record for a March opening.
Elsewhere in the Southeast Asian region, the film has been a source of controversy. A gay character named LeFou sparked calls among some conservative groups around the world for a boycott of the film.
In Malaysia, censors halted the film’s premiere due to reports of a so-called “gay scene” in the film. It initially barred Disney from screening the movie if the scene was not removed, and several mainstream cinemas provided customers refunds for pre-sale tickets.
The country’s Tourism and Culture Minister Nazri Aziz then told Asian Correspondent he found the uproar over Beauty and the Beast to be “ridiculous” and tantamount to “moral policing”.
“Homosexuals exist, they’ve been around even without showing the film,” he said.
Disney refused, and eventually the government caved, allowing Beauty and the Beast to show without any edits.
In neighbouring Singapore, the Anglican church issued an “alert” to parents regarding “homosexual content”, signalling the film diverged from Disney’s usual association with “wholesome, mainstream values.”