Beauty and the Beast is a 2017 American musical romantic fantasy film directed by Bill Condon from a screenplay by Stephen Chbosky and Evan Spiliotopoulos, and co-produced by Walt Disney Pictures and Mandeville Films. The film is based on Disney's 1991 animated film of the same name, itself an adaptation of Jeanne-Marie Leprince de Beaumont's eighteenth-century fairy tale. The film features an ensemble cast that includes Emma Watson and Dan Stevens as the titular characters with Luke Evans, Kevin Kline, Josh Gad, Ewan McGregor, Stanley Tucci, Audra McDonald, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Nathan Mack, Ian McKellen, and Emma Thompson in supporting roles.
Principal photography began at Shepperton Studios in Surrey, England on May 18, 2015, and ended on August 21. Beauty and the Beast premiered on February 23, 2017, at Spencer House in London, and was released in the United States on March 17, 2017, in standard, Disney Digital 3-D, RealD 3D, IMAX and IMAX 3D formats, along with Dolby Cinema. The film received positive reviews from critics and audiences, with many praising Watson and Stevens' performances as well as the ensemble cast, visual style, production merits, and musical score, though it received criticism for its similarity to the original. The film has grossed over $1.2 billion worldwide, becoming the highest-grossing live-action musical film, surpassing the original and making it the highest-grossing film of 2017 and the 10th highest-grossing film of all time.
In Rococo-era France, an enchantress disguised as a beggar arrives at a ball and offers the host, a coldhearted prince, a rose for shelter. When he refuses, she transforms him into a beast and his servants into household objects, and erases the castle from the memories of their loved ones. She casts a spell on the rose and warns the prince that, unless he learns to love another and earn their love in return before the last petal falls, he and his servants will lose their humanity forever.
Years later, in the village of Villeneuve, Belle dreams of adventure and brushes off advances from Gaston, an arrogant former soldier. Lost in the forest, Belle's father Maurice seeks refuge in the Beast's castle, but the Beast imprisons him for stealing a rose. Belle ventures out in search for him and finds him locked in the castle dungeon. The Beast agrees to let her take Maurice's place.
Belle befriends the castle's servants, who treat her to a spectacular dinner. When she wanders into the forbidden west wing and finds the rose, the Beast, enraged, scares her into the woods. She is cornered by wolves, but the Beast rescues her and is injured in the process. A friendship develops as Belle nurses his wounds. The Beast shows Belle a gift from the enchantress, a book that transports readers wherever they want. Belle uses it to visit her childhood home in Paris, where she discovers a plague doctor mask. Belle realizes that she and her father were forced to leave her mother's deathbed as her mother succumbed to the plague.
In Villeneuve, Gaston sees rescuing Belle as an opportunity to win her hand in marriage and agrees to help Maurice. When Maurice learns of his ulterior motive and rejects him, Gaston abandons him to the wolves. Maurice is rescued by a beggar, Agathe, but when he tells the townsfolk of Gaston's crime, Gaston convinces them to send him to an insane asylum.
After sharing a romantic dance with the Beast, Belle discovers her father's predicament using a magic mirror. The Beast releases her to save Maurice, giving her the mirror to remember him with. At Villeneuve, Belle proves Maurice's sanity by revealing the Beast in the mirror to the townsfolk. Realizing that Belle loves the Beast, Gaston has her thrown into the asylum carriage with her father and rallies the villagers to follow him to the castle to slay the Beast. Maurice and Belle escape and Belle rushes back to the castle.
During the battle, Gaston abandons his companion LeFou, who sides with the servants to fend off the villagers. Gaston attacks the Beast in his tower, who is too depressed to fight back, but regains his will upon seeing Belle return. He spares Gaston's life before reuniting with Belle. However, Gaston fatally shoots the Beast from a bridge, but it collapses when the castle crumbles and he falls to his death. The Beast dies as the last petal falls and the servants become inanimate. When Belle tearfully professes her love to him, Agathe reveals herself as the enchantress and undoes the curse, repairing the crumbling castle and restoring the Beast's and servants' human forms and the villagers' memories. The Prince and Belle host a ball for the kingdom, where they dance happily.
Controversy erupted after director Bill Condon said there was a "gay moment" in the film, when LeFou briefly waltzes with Stanley, one of Gaston's friends. Afterwards in an interview with Vulture.com, Condon stated, "Can I just say, I’m sort of sick of this. Because you’ve seen the movie—it's such a tiny thing, and it’s been overblown." Condon also added that Beauty and the Beast features much more diversity than just the highly-talked-about LeFou: "That was so important. We have interracial couples—this is a celebration of everybody's individuality, and that’s what’s exciting about it.” GLAAD president and CEO Sarah Kate Ellis praised the move stating, "It is a small moment in the film, but it is a huge leap forward for the film industry."
In Russia, Vitaly Milonov agitated the culture minister for banning the film, but instead it was given a 16+ rating (children under the age of 16 can only be admitted to see it in theaters with accompanying adults). Additionally, a theater in Henagar, Alabama did not screen the film because of the subplot. In Malaysia, the Film Censorship Board insisted the "gay moment" scene be cut, prompting an indefinite postponement of its release by Disney, followed by their decision to withdraw it completely if it could not be released uncensored. The studio moved the release date to March 30, to allow more time for Malaysia's censor board to make a decision on whether or not to release the film without changes. The distributors and producers then submitted an appeal to the Film Appeal Committee of Malaysia, which allowed the film to be released without any cuts and a P13 rating on the grounds that the "gay element" was minor and did not affect the positive elements featured in the film. In Kuwait, the movie was withdrawn from cinemas by National Cinema Company which owns most of the cinemas in the country. A board member of the company stated that the Ministry of Information's censorship department had requested it to stop its screening and edit it for things deemed offensive by it.
There were also a number of boycotts against the film. A call to boycott on LifePetitions received over 129,000 signatures, while the American Family Association featured a petition to boycott with the film, asking the public to help crowdfund a CGI version of Pilgrim's Progress instead.