Remember when conservatives were so outraged over that gay character in Disney's live-action "Beauty and the Beast" remake that they urged other good Christians to skip it in theaters this weekend? Yeah, that didn't make a dent in box office receipts.
In fact, the extra attention only appears to have helped.
The romantic fantasy film, starring Emma Watson as Belle and Dan Stevens as the Beast, roared into theaters with a record-setting opening of $170 million in North America, according to Box Office Mojo. That tops the $166 million March opening "Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice" scored just last year (with no gay characters, either), and gave the musical the seventh-highest domestic opening of all time.
Worldwide, the movie has raked in $350 million on a $160 million budget. Not only is that the biggest launch of all time for a PG-rated movie (beating the $135 million "Finding Dory" managed last year), but the largest spring opening ever. A few other records include fourth-largest Saturday gross, the largest Spring opening weekend, fourth-largest Saturday gross of all-time, sixth-largest Sunday gross and eighth-largest theater average for a wide opening release.
All that money flowed into theaters after nearly 52,000 people signed an American Family Radio petition reading, "I can't support Disney's 'Beauty and the Beast' movie because of the director's announcement in a recent interview that the movie will contain a 'nice, exclusively gay moment' between two male characters."
"Homosexual behavior is unhealthy and unnatural," the petition continued. "It is irresponsible and careless of Disney to promote such an agenda in a movie designed and marketed to children. Count me as one who will urge family, church members and friends to reject Disney's live-action movie production of 'Beauty and the Beast.'"
Looks like their efforts didn't count much. Neither did the efforts of the 134,138 people who signed this online petition urging supporters to "tell Disney 'NO' to LGBT agenda in 'Beauty and the Beast.'"
Those who saw "Beauty and the Beast" know that the gay moment director Bill Condon teased was pretty subtle, as TooFab can sum it up as Josh Gad's character LeFou giving Gaston (Luke Evans) some adoring looks and then dancing with another man at the end of the film.