It’s a good weekend at the box office for franchise blockbusters and original auteur-driven films alike. While Disney’s “The Lion King” will stay No. 1 at the box office in its second weekend, Sony’s “Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood” is off to a solid start with $16.8 million grossed on its opening day from 3,659 theaters.
Quentin Tarantino’s ode to Sharon Tate and a bygone era of Hollywood is now estimated to earn an opening weekend of $40.2 million, hitting the upper end of analysts’ pre-release predictions. If that result holds, it will be a new opening weekend record for Tarantino, topping the $38 million earned in August 2009 by “Inglourious Basterds.”
But the true test for “Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood” as it has been for all of Tarantino’s films, will come in later weeks. Critical reception has been positive with an 85% Rotten Tomatoes score, but audiences gave the film a B on CinemaScore and a 4/5 on Postrak. While that’s by no means a poor score, “Basterds” and its follow-up, 2012’s “Django Unchained,” each earned an A- on CinemaScore and went on to bring in $120 million and $162 million respectively.
“The Hateful Eight,” on the other hand, earned a B on CinemaScore and only grossed $54 million in 2015 in a theatrical market that included “Star Wars: The Force Awakens.” The challenge for “Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood” will be to build the good word of mouth to leg out against films like “Hobbs & Shaw” and “The Farewell” in August.
Meanwhile, “The Lion King” is looking at a 60% drop from its July record $191.5 million opening, with industry estimates now projecting a $76.5 million weekend total. That is consistent with the performance of another film that opened to $191 million, “Avengers: Age of Ultron.” The 2015 Marvel movie earned $77.7 million in its second weekend and went on to gross $459 million domestically and $1.4 billion worldwide. “The Lion King” is set to hold a 10-day total of $351 million, higher than the $313 million for “Ultron.”
In the rest of the Top 5, Sony’s “Spider-Man: Far From Home,” which became the first “Spider-Man” film to gross over $1 billion earlier this week, is estimated to gross $12 million in its fourth weekend. Disney/Pixar’s “Toy Story 4” is getting closer to the domestic total of “Toy Story 3” with $10 million grossed in its sixth weekend, while Paramount’s “Crawl” is holding well thanks to post-release social media buzz, grossing $4 million in its third weekend.