‘The Lion King’ Roars to $185 Million Opening, as ‘Avengers’ Passes ‘Avatar’

Just another weekend of runaway success for Disney

The Lion King Mufasa Simba
Walt Disney Studios

It’s another weekend of broken box office records for Disney, as their remake of “The Lion King” earned the biggest July opening weekend ever with $185 million from 4,725 screens, topping the $169 million earned by “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows — Part 2” in 2011.

And while Simba begins his reign over movie theaters, “Avengers: Endgame” passed “Avatar” and officially became the highest grossing film of all time three months after its historic release.

“Lion King” got off to a good start last weekend with a release in China, where the film now has a 10-day total of $97.5 million. It opened in all other major markets except Japan and Italy this weekend, earning a $454 million global weekend total and an overall total of $531 million. $25.2 million came this weekend from IMAX, scoring the second highest July opening for an IMAX release, while RealD reports that 36% of sales were for 3D tickets.

If this result holds, “Lion King” will stand as one of the top 10 largest opening weekends in box office history and will pass “Incredibles 2” as the biggest opening weekend ever for an animated film. That record was once held by the original “Lion King” from 1994 to 1999 with an opening weekend of $40.8 million, or $70.5 million after inflation adjustment.

This all came despite sharply mixed reviews for the remake and negative reactions to sneak peek clips from social media over the expressiveness of the photorealistic characters. “The Lion King” divided critics with a 55% Rotten Tomatoes score, but audiences have embraced the CGI animation with an A on CinemaScore and a 4/5 on Postrak.

On the other end of the release run spectrum, “Avengers: Endgame” is now the highest grossing film of all time, ending the decade-long reign of James Cameron’s sci-fi blockbuster “Avatar.” In April and May, “Endgame” smashed records left and right, reaching $1 billion worldwide in its opening weekend and $2 billion after 11 days in theaters.

As other blockbusters entered the marketplace, “Endgame” quickly slowed down, particularly in overseas markets, somewhat ironic considering how “Avatar” reached its enormous box office cume by sustaining over the course of eight months. But a special edition timed for the release of “Spider-Man: Far From Home” gave “Avengers” the extra bit of legs it needed with $1.2 million grossed this weekend. As Marvel Studios head Kevin Feige announced the record during the studio’s San Diego Comic-Con presentation on Saturday, “Avengers: Endgame” adds the biggest record in the movie theater industry to the hundreds it has already broken around the world with a global total of $2.79 billion.

Elsewhere on the charts, “Spider-Man: Far From Home” has a three weekend total of $319 million after grossing $21 million this weekend, while “Toy Story 4” earned $14 million to bring its domestic total to $375 million and its global total to $859 million. Paramount’s “Crawl” earned $6 million for a 10-day total of $23 million, while Universal’s “Yesterday” completed the top five with $5.1 million in its fourth weekend for a $57.5 million total.