Article by Sarah Pickett | esPResso Staff Writer
The live action remake of the classic Disney tale, Beauty and the Beast, drew a large audience when it hit theaters on March 17. It is no surprise that the movie was a huge box office success, bringing in $174.75 million just on opening night. Much of the success of the movie is due to the massive pre-movie promotion and PR efforts to engage its audience.
The remake stays true to the original story of a beautiful and intelligent girl who sees past the superficial and falls in love with a misunderstood beast. The message of the story alone is enough to draw an audience, but the nostalgic aspect intrigues even the skeptical. Rotten tomatoes and other film critics showed disappointment in the live action remake with poor reviews. However, a large audience still came out to theaters due in part by the promotion of the film. The PR team played to peoples emotions with trailers and social media posts that reminded people of their connection to the story and the characters.
The controversy surrounding the character of LeFou being depicted as a homosexual has deterred some, but not enough for the film to be unsuccessful. The PR team has handled the disapproval and backlash in a graceful and effective way. According to the New York Times, director of the film, Bill Condon, stayed true to his vision and simply stated “LeFou is somebody who on one day wants to be Gaston and on another day wants to kiss Gaston.”
Long before the premiere date, promotion on social media started as early as 2016. Disney and Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) collaborated to retell the story of Beauty and the Beast through Snapchat. This project was for the 25th Anniversary, but it had a dual purpose in also helping promote the live action remake.
PR for the film was also successful in making the audience feel part of an experience. Contests and sweepstakes were offered so that fans had the opportunity to step into their favorite characters’ shoes. Gameloft’s Beauty and the Beast Sweepstakes is just one of the many contests offered that increased engagement among audiences.
This live action version of Beauty and the Beast is a fresh take on a tale, dare I say, as old as time. The promotion around the film generated excitement, engagement and a new found love for a classic tale. The film attracted a diverse audience, allowing new and old fans to enjoy Belle’s journey in discovering an unexpected true love.