Movie-goers are eagerly anticipating Disney's (DIS) Beauty and the Beast's opening weekend, which is expected to bring in between $120 million and $140 million domestically and above $100 million internationally. The movie, which opens tonight with a wider release scheduled for Friday, stars Emma Watson as the bookish Belle who confronts the Beast played by Dan Stevens in order to rescue her father.
The Disney princess remake of the 1991 animated classic cost $160 million and has the chance to break the record for the biggest opening weekend for a PG title, currently held by Disney's Finding Dory, which opened to $135 million last summer and went on to gross over $1 billion worldwide.
"The anticipation and excitement around this movie is astonishing," Disney CEO Bob Iger said during the company's first-quarter conference call. "The first trailer drew more than 127 million online views in the first 24 hours, breaking the record held by Star Wars: The Force Awakens."
The highly anticipated release is also expected to boost Disney's shares, which have risen so far this year. Disney was trading at about $111 shortly before Thursday's close, down slightly for the day, compared to $106.08 at the beginning of 2017 and about $99 in mid-March 2016.
Earlier this week Guggenheim raised Disney's price target to $128 from $118 and upgraded its stock rating to "buy" from "neutral," partly due to its robust film lineup.