Monday Morning Quarterback Part I
By BOP Staff
September 19, 2011
It's the Circle of Life. In 17 more years, it will make another $30-40 million.
Kim Hollis: The Lion King 3D earned $30.2 million, winning the weekend and surprising a lot of analysts. How did this happen?
Matthew Huntley: I think this boils down to two factors: 1) The new releases were too unappealing to reach #1 (and none of them catered to the ever-important family audience); 2) The Lion King remains one of the most beloved animated films of all time, and those who saw it nearly 20 years ago probably wanted to re-experience it and/or share it with their new families. This is a big win for Disney, as it will not only spark interest in the upcoming Lion King Blu-ray, but it also suggests the studio can re-release many titles in their animation catalog and yield a healthy profit. I'm still not convinced it's necessary to see The Lion King in 3D, but it's one of those perennial classics that I wouldn't mind seeing again on the big screen. Obviously, I'm not the only who feels this way.
Brett Beach: I think this should be considered in perspective of both the Toy Story/Toy Story 2 3D re-release in late 2009 and the Star Wars Episode IV re-release in 1997. The Lion King came out only a year before the first Toy Story and was being sent back to theaters 17 years later (compare to 14 years/10 years for the Toy Stories and 20 years for Star Wars). Lion King's grosses were 2.5x that of Toy Story, and in straight numbers, not far off A New Hope's gross of $35 million in 1997. Can the Lion King now be fairly pegged as Disney's equivalent to Star Wars - at least in the modern Disney era (1970s and beyond)? Their strategy of regularly sending films to the "vault" (it's creepy-sounding, I just have to say) and then letting them re-emerge in spruced up fashion or at least new packaging is brilliant, and not all that different from what George "Noooooooo!" Lucas does every other Leap Year.
I am not sure how unavailable LK was in contrast to the Toy Story films, but this shows that LK was in some sense more beloved or at least tapped into more nostalgia. I had heard that this was being advertised as one of those "two-week" deals so maybe that spurred some consumers who might otherwise have waited, but if Disney was seriously considering doing that (ha!), they have Best of Both Worlds themselves out of that thinking. I am supposing Finding Nemo will be a candidate for this later this decade.
Bruce Hall: I think we've already effectively drilled down on this one, but there's no question that there was little in new release to be excited about this weekend, particularly if you felt like taking your kids to the theater. But I can't get over how an almost 20 year old film that most people probably already own on DVD was re-released in a dubious and expensive format this weekend, and managed to come within shouting distance of its original opening weekend of $41 million. Even adjusting for inflation, this is worth talking about and I think that this result almost guarantees we're going to see more of this. I don't really see the value in a 3D version of The Lion King either, but I can't imagine that matters one whit to Disney or the other studios who are as we speak forcing bleary eyed interns to work overtime combing through the archives looking for titles to resurrect. But as far as the Disney flicks are concerned, be prepared to take your kids to see them. Because after a limited time they're going back into the Vault, and your family will hate you forever unless you take advantage of the once in a generation opportunity to relive the magic.