With an opening of $192 million, ‘The Lion King’ set a new July record, tearing past the former champ, ‘Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2, which opened with $169.1M in 2011. This also marks the highest opening ever for one of Disney’s live-action (or in this case, photorealistic) reboots of one of their animated classics, and the highest opening ever for a Jon Favreau picture.
The film opened early in China last week, so with that total added to this domestic opening, plus its global haul, it has made $531M, over half a billion.
Critics have been harsh, with its Rotten Tomatoes score at a pretty awful 54%. The biggest criticism is that this is just a remake of the 1994 animated classic, with nothing new. (‘Aladdin’ and ‘Beauty and the Beast’ at least had new songs.) But what critics consider being a “knockoff” or “carbon copy,” audiences are interpreting as being “faithful.” They gave it an A through CinemaScore and 4 out of 5 stars via PostTrak.
‘The Lion King’s massive opening brings Disney’s overall gross for the year to $2.4 billion. The #2 and #3 movies are also blockbusters by the House of Mouse. The gulf between ‘The Lion King’ and the first runner-up, ‘Spider-Man: Far From Home’ is massive. The Sony co-production made an additional $21M, domestically, which pushes its global cumulative to $970.7M, just a short web-swing away from $1 billion. (In case you missed it, if ‘Far From Home’ doesn’t make $1 billion, it would allow Sony to cut Disney/Marvel out and make ‘Spider-Man 3’ by itself. But luckily, it looks like ‘Far From Home’ will cross $1 billion within the next week or so.)
The #3 movie was ‘Toy Story 4’, which made an additional $14.6M. Its global take is now $859.4M, so it also has a good chance of crossing $1 billion during its theatrical run.
And though it is no longer in the US Top Five, ‘Aladdin’ is about to fly its magic carpet past $1 billion, with $988.8M, which is actually ahead of ‘Spider-Man’, but then again, it’s been out longer.
AND, on top of all that, ‘Avengers: Endgame’ actually managed to edge past ‘Avatar’ to become the highest-grossing movie of all time! So all in all, a great time to be Disney… or a Disney fan!
- The Lion King (Disney) – $192M
- Spider-Man: Far From Home (Sony) – $21M
- Toy Story 4 (Disney) – $14.6M
- Crawl (Paramount) – $6M
- Yesterday (Universal/Working Title) – $5.1M
Is it time to move past the family entertainment? Sony hopes so, as it rolls out the latest Quentin Tarantino flick, ‘Once Upon a Time… In Hollywood’. The hope is that older males will be drawn to this picture which stars Brad Pitt, Leonardo DiCaprio, and Margot Robbie, but the older male audience isn’t one that rushes out to see new movies, so while it may do well, it’s probably not going to take down ‘The Lion King’.
Also, opening is ‘Brahms: The Boy II’, a sequel to the 2016 horror movie, ‘The Boy’. I have not seen a single ad for this movie, so that’s probably not a good sign.
‘The Lion King’ will likely be the last massive opening of the summer. ‘Once Upon a Time… In Hollywood’ probably won’t even make as much as ‘The Lion King’ will next weekend. The week after that sees the release of ‘Hobbs & Shaw’ which should do nicely, but not ‘Lion King’ nicely. After that, it’s a steady stream of low-budget horror, kids movies, comedies, and sequels in all three categories. At best, without a ‘Mission: Impossible’ picture this year, ‘Hobbs & Shaw’ might tap into that same audience, which would allow it to dominate the last month of summer.
The first weekend of September brings what will probably be the next major smash– ‘It: Chapter Two’.
But before that, check back to see how next weekend goes.