Friday Box Office Analysis
By Kim Hollis
July 20, 2019
Just over 25 years after The Lion King became one of the most successful animated films ever, Disney revisits the story with a "live-action" (aka CGI) version updated for a 21st century audience. Long live the king.
As we have mentioned many, many, many times this year, 2019 belongs to Disney. Before this weekend, the studio could lay claim to distribution of all four of the top four movies at the box office domestically - and they technically even have an argument for the current fifth place film, Spider-Man: Far From Home. Even though Sony has the distribution rights, Disney owns Marvel, so some percentage of revenue is assuredly coming their way (not to mention merchandise benefits, as you can find all kinds of products from the film on the shopDisney website).
After this weekend, The Lion King will make it five out of six (or six out of six, depending on your point of view). With a stellar Friday debut of $78.5 million, audiences simply pooh-poohed the middling reviews, much like they did with Aladdin only a few short weeks ago. Considering that the Cinemascore is an A, audiences aren't really agreeing with the "oh, you've destroyed my childhood" nature of the negative commentary anyway.
By the time weekend estimates are announced, I think we can expect around $192 million for the weekend. I wouldn't be surprised if the real total was $200 million, but Disney is notorious for estimating low. In case you're wondering, yes, that will move The Lion King into sixth place for domestic totals for 2019, as Us is the current placeholder with $175 million.
Also noteworthy is the fact that The Lion King has already earned $192 million internationally, meaning that it's likely to be approaching $500 million or so in worldwide revenue by the end of this weekend. People, you can complain about Disney's live-action remakes all you want, but the demand is clearly out there.
I'm not even going to cover last weekend's new release holdovers since they earned less than $3 million combined. The other couple of box office stories of note include Spider-Man: Far From Home passing the $300 million mark and the all-time worldwide record continuing to be threatened by Avengers: Endgame. At the moment, $5 million separates it from Avatar, so I believe you are hearing the sound of inevitability.
(Of course, since Disney acquired Fox, they own Avatar. They get merchandising benefits from Avatar, as the themed world of Pandora has all kinds of awesome stuff, including adorable banshees that'll sit on your shoulders. I have one and I love it. So ultimately, they're just going for bragging rights.)