In this week’s issue of The Business, a podcast hosted by Kim Masters, Masters interviews director Bill Condon on his most recent and incredible success, Beauty and the Beast, which hit theaters on March 16th and broke box office records, raking in over $175 million in the opening weekend. It made the most money during opening weekend than any other PG movie in history, and it also made the most money than any other March release in film history. However, with its roaring monetary success also comes some disdain from several who do not appreciate the inclusion of homosexual characters.
Condon made LeFou a gay man in this piece, a deviation from the beloved animated version released by Disney in 1991. This has received much criticism in the media to the point that some have boycotted the film for including this controversial topic of homosexuality in a children’s film. Russia even threatened to ban the film, but eventually allowed people over the age of 16 to view it. Condon reports that he never intended this aspect of the film to become such a hot item in the media. Condon explains why he made this decision to make the character homosexual. His rationale is that the story, which is over 300 years old, is about acceptance and looking beneath the surface, and in Condon’s own words, “if you’re going to make that in 2017, you want to be more inclusive.” He admits that he did not consult Disney about this decision. In fact, it was not even in the script. He simply thought of it on the spot and decided it was best for the film.
Condon definitely shocked and angered many people with this piece, but of course, he also got a lot of praise from film critics and the LGBT community for including the “gay moment” in this beloved fantasy tale. In my own view, if you are going to remake a film, why not add different elements to make it a bit unique? I think the entire conflict over this small moment on screen has been blown out of proportion, and I believe Condon would agree. Despite this blowback, it has still seen incredible success, and I believe Condon is happy with his work.