Why Beauty and the Beast Still Shines 25 Years Later

Walt Disney Studio’s 1991 animated film Beauty and the Beast will have its official 25h theatrical release anniversary on November 22. The Walt Disney Company has been quick to remind its fans of the momentous occasion, kicking off its celebratory activities with an in-store release of the movie’s anniversary edition Blu-ray/ Digital HD copies on September 20.

Celebration was even found on September 18 at New York’s Alice Tully Hall where interviews and recollection of cast members Paige O’Hara (Belle), Robby Benson (Beast), and Richard White (Gaston) plus Angela Lansbury (Mrs. Potts)’s performance of the Academy Award winning song “Beauty and the Beast” occurred.

After all these years, why is the film still able to conjure large attention from the masses? May these following factors shed insight on this Disney classic’s attraction.

Its Iconic Role Model

Of all the colorful characters, the film’s heroine Belle stands out the most. Along with sharing the trademark Disney Princess traits of kindness, curiosity, and beauty, her uniqueness stems from her strongest trait: her love of literature. Belle is the first Disney princess who not only engulfs herself in reading but is quick to defend this quirky interest from naysayers in the film.

Her story-loving nature not only justifies her moments of wit, but having to deal with others’ evident disapproval of her quirk (seriously, the first musical number involves the townsfolk gossiping about her “oddity”) undoubtedly strengthens her confidence to stress her point of view and identify when characters Beast and Gaston act out of line.

Most significantly, Belle has become a fictional role model in pop culture, being used to encourage people, especially young girls, to become active readers. The positive influence behind Disney’s bookworm-turned-princess definitely assists in the film’s fame.

The Magic of Marketability

Walt Disney Company’s marketing favorability of Beauty and the Beast is undeniable. The film itself has made cinematic history, being the first animated film nominated by the Academy Awards for Best Picture. Though it didn’t win that category, the Disney film did win Best Original Song (“Beauty and the Beast”) and Best Original Score at the Academy as well as the Golden Globe for Best Motion Picture: Musical or Comedy. The movie did well with audiences, too, receiving over $145M at the domestic box office between 1991and 1992.

The film industry and moviegoer’s high praise made Disney’s merchandise venture for the film an easy one; aside from Beauty and the Beast’s video and soundtrack copies, the film’s merchandise empire currently includes plushies, books, costumes, dolls, and exclusive products such as collectible figurines and jewelry sold in Disney’s stores and amusement parks and at external stores. More importantly, the numerous categories of merchandise and their successful sales visibly add to the animation’s memorability.

The Ever-Evolving Story

Being an adaptation itself, Disney’s take on Gabrielle-Suzanne Barbot de Villeneuve’s fairytale has inspired reformed storylines both within and outside the company. During the past two and a half decades, various retellings of the tale emerged in the form of television series such as CW’s Beauty & the Beast (2012-2016) and ABC’s ongoing series Once Upon a Time and films like Beastly (2011), Blood of Beasts (2005), Spike (2008), and La Belle et la Bête (2014).

The Disney company itself has even chosen to recreate the story with three animated spin-off films, a Tony-winning musical had its Broadway premiere in 1994, and its upcoming 2017 live-action remake starring Emma Watson (Belle), Dan Steven (Beast), Luke Evans (Gaston), and Ewan McGregor (Lumiere). Truly the story’s room for versatility adds to its successful streak of intriguing fans.

 

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