Ah, yes. The Disney fans.
Full disclosure: we at Shmoop count them among our ranks; we're here and we're not to be trifled with. Rock singers, movie stars, that "Gangnam Style" guy…their fans don't hold a candle to those of the Mouse, and Beauty and the Beast is a major player in this pantheon of love.
Disney fandom in general goes back generations. Uncle Walt got to the Baby Boomers early and often, starting with the massive success of Peter Pan in the 1950s and an equally massive follow-up on an exciting new medium: television. Having scored a big success with a pair of Christmas specials in the early '50s, Disney was ready to dive into TV with both giant, puffy cartoon hands.
The result? The Mickey Mouse Club, which taught an entire generation of young children that wearing mouse ears was just about the most awesome thing ever. And, if the ears didn't get you, then all of those Davy Crockett hats would: a fad spawned by Disney's spectacularly successful TV miniseries of the same name.
Put that in a pot, throw in a couple of theme parks, let it marinate for 40 years, and you have a fan base built for the long haul.
Disney fans certainly have a lot of things to focus on: 50-plus animated features, a heaping fistful of live-action films, TV shows, cartoon characters, every new ride at Disneyland and Disney World…and if that isn't staggering enough, the same company now owns the rights to Star Wars and Marvel Comics (whose fan base might match that of the Disney crowd for sheer, all-encompassing devotion). They're all in one group now, and they have the Internet to stay connected.
If you're not one of them, wait a minute, and they'll get around to you.
All of those fans mean fan sites that can boggle the mind, and while comparatively few of them focus just on Beauty and the Beast, you can bet Belle and her buddies are a big part of their obsession. The characters routinely show up at the theme parks, and both Disneyland and Disney World have live stage shows dedicated to them.
Online sites like Disney's official club, D23, have some pages dedicated to the film, but they're nothing compared to some of the fan sites out there. The interwebs has given scads of people the ability to expound at length upon their Disney mania. They include folks like these guys, these guys, and these guys over here, and believe us, this is just scratching the surface.
How dedicated are the fans? Well, to write this guide, Shmoop consulted an online screenplay that the site owner had typed up from scratch while watching the movie.
We double-checked. It's 100% accurate.
And, the guy did it just so everyone could have that info.
The rise in cosplay got started early over at Chez Disney, with '50s kids sporting Davy Crockett hats and little girls dressing like princesses for Halloween. With cosplaying officially a thing now, these fans have gone all out, and you can even see Disney characters liberally sprinkled amid the annual superhero mosh pit that is San Diego Comic-Con.
Beauty and the Beast presents a particular challenge for cosplayers because, with one exception, you can't just say yes to the dress. We've got talking candelabras, dancing feather dusters, and a leading man who looks like a werewolf wearing a stuffed bison head.
If you're gonna dress up like that, you gotta bring your A-game.
Thing is, they do. Just look at this guy dressed up as Lumiere. Or this adorable couple, who we're hoping actually dressed up like this on their wedding. Couples really seem to give it their all for this one, which makes sense since it's widely considered one of the most romantic movies ever made. Even when the guy doesn't quite go full headpiece, you can spot the care and attention that went into it all. Few Disney princesses get as much play as Belle out there, making her first among equals when it comes to inspiring the seamstresses of the world.
Fan Art and Fan Fiction
Naturally, the fans don't limit themselves to dressing up. A lot of them have decided to express their creativity in other ways, starting with fan fiction that has continued the adventures of these characters both before and after the events of the movie. In fact, over on fanfiction.net, they have an entire section dedicated to Beauty and the Beast covering prequels, sequels, alternate versions, and all the variations you can think of. They don't get too racy over there, and there's a handy ratings guide to help you decide which ones are your speed.
Fan art takes up a fair amount of real estate on the old interwebs as well. Some artists take a more whimsical (or darker) look at events in the film, such as this piece covering the wolf attack or this one with more of a gritty comic book-y feel. Others take an alternative approach, such as this steampunk Belle or Beast.
It's pretty clear that these characters have a deep hold on lots of fans, who are willing to do a lot more than just keep watching the film and posing with the characters over at the theme parks.
Although that's adorable, too.