'Beauty and the Beast' is the first and only full-length animated feature film to ever be nominated for an Academy Award for Best Picture. Heightening the level of performance in the era known as the Disney Renaissance (1989-19, beginning with The Little Mermaid and ending with Tarzan), all animated films following its release have been influenced by its new use of 3D technology.
Beauty and the Beast ranked #22 on the American Film Institute's list of best musicals and #34 on its list of the best romantic American movies. On the list of the greatest songs from American movies, Beauty and the Beast ranked #62. In 2002, Beauty and the Beast was added to the United States National Film Registry as being deemed "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant."
It was a significant success at the box-office, with more than $171 million in domestic revenues alone and over $377 million in worldwide revenues. This high number of sales made it the third-most successful movie of 1991, surpassed only by summer blockbusters Terminator 2: Judgment Day and Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves. It was also the most successful animated Disney film at the time and the first animated movie to reach $100 million at the box-office.
Beauty and the Beast won two Academy Awards for Best Music, Original Score and Best Music, Song for Alan Menken and Howard Ashman's "Beauty and the Beast", sung in the film's most famous scene by Angela Lansbury, and at the end of the film by Céline Dion and Peabo Bryson. Two other Menken and Ashman songs from the movie also nominated for Best Music, Song were "Belle" and "Be Our Guest", making it the first picture ever to receive three Academy Award nominations for Best Song, a feat that would be repeated by The Lion King, Dreamgirls, and Enchanted. Beauty and the Beast was also nominated for Best Sound and Best Picture. It is the only animated movie ever to be nominated for Best Picture.
In "The Mob Song", Gaston quotes Macbeth by William Shakespeare. "Screw your courage to the sticking place." (I, vii) Lady Macbeth's speech to Macbeth to tell him to kill Duncan.
The song "Mountain Town" from South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut (19), is meant to be a parody of the opening song, "Belle".
An entire season 4 episode of Warner Brothers animated series, Animaniacs, named "The Cutie and the Beast", is a straight-out parody of Walt Disney's movie and even includes parodies of some of the more popular songs of the feature.
The animated series The Critic parodies this film's title theme with its own version, "Beauty and King Dork".
Belle was inspired by other great movie musical heroines. Her peasant dress was loosely based on Judy Garland's (Dorothy) attire from The Wizard of Oz. The scene where Belle runs to the hills singing is a homage to Julie Andrews and the opening scene of 1965's The Sound of Music. Also, towards the end of the film Belle holds the dying Beast in her arms. This is similar to the way Maria holds the slain Tony in West Side Story.
In the final scene of the Dreamworks film Shrek, Princess Fiona's "transformation" is similar to the Beast reverting to his human form. Also, in Shrek 2, two of the factory workers are transformed into a clock and a candlestick, a reference to Cogsworth and Lumière.
When Belle goes up to the West Wing, the background music is a variation of Aquarium from Camille Saint-Saëns's Le Carnaval des Animaux.
In the Simpsons episode Two Dozen and One Greyhounds, Mr. Burns sings a parody of Be Our Guest called See My Vest.
The final confrontation between Gaston and the Beast is not unlike that of Rotwang and Freder from the Fritz Lang film Metropolis.
The final animation of Belle and the Prince (Human Beast) dancing in the restored ballroom is recycled from Sleeping Beauty and re colored. This was stated in the commentary of the Special Edition DVD.
At one point during the song "Human Again", Cogsworth and Mrs. Potts are singing on a fence. Cogsworth is wearing a straw hat, drawing an association with farmers, and is holding a pitchfork with his right hand. Mrs. Potts is to his left. This is very reminiscent of the painting by Grant Wood, "American Gothic."
Cogsworth references the Baroque architecture period when he utters the now classic line "If it's not Baroque, don't fix it."
Angela Lansbury was reluctant to sing the version of "Beauty and the Beast" which was to be used in the ballroom scene. She agreed to record the song to show to executives and it is this version which appears in the final animated scene.