‘Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood’ Opens to $40 Million Against Franchise-Heavy Box Office

“The Lion King” stays No. 1 with $75 million second weekend

Once Upon A Time In Hollywood Leonardo DiCaprio Brad Pitt Margo Robbie
Sony Pictures

Quentin Tarantino’s “Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood” has gotten off to a good start at the box office, earning an estimated $40.4 million in its opening weekend from 3,659 screens, taking the No. 2 spot on this weekend’s charts behind Disney’s “The Lion King.”

Unadjusted for inflation, Tarantino’s latest film now stands as the best opening weekend of his career, topping the $38 million earned by “Inglourious Basterds” in summer 2009. Distributed by Sony/Columbia Pictures, “Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood” is the first Tarantino film released by a major studio after Harvey Weinstein — who distributed all of the director’s previous films through Miramax and The Weinstein Company — was accused by multiple women of sexual harassment and assault.

While many blockbusters boast IMAX and 3D as their special format offerings, “Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood” was available to view in 35mm on 50 screens in select cities, as well as 70mm on five. Combined, those two formats grossed $1.2 million, with $400,000 of that coming from 70mm, giving “OUATIH” a higher per screen average than any indie release in 2019 with the exception of A24’s “The Farewell.”

Reception for the film has been mostly positive, with an 85% score from critics on Rotten Tomatoes and a B on CinemaScore. Sony is expecting older audiences who don’t regularly show up to theaters on opening weekend to see the film in later weeks and give “OUATIH” a strong hold.

But it remains to be seen whether word of mouth will be strong enough for Tarantino’s latest to match the box office performance of “Inglourious Basterds,” which had a stronger opening weekend audience reception with an A- on CinemaScore. “Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood” will compete next weekend against the “Fast & Furious” spinoff “Hobbs & Shaw,” as well as the wide release of “The Farewell,” which will be direct competition for older demographics.

While Tarantino and Sony have carved out a spot at the box office for themselves, Disney continues to rule the charts with “The Lion King,” as it stampedes towards $1 billion worldwide. The remake earned $75.5 million this weekend, marking a 61% drop from its July record $191.5 million opening. Worldwide, it made $218.3 million this weekend to bring its global total to $962 million and putting it among the top five highest grossing films of the year both domestically and globally.

In third on the charts is Sony’s “Spider-Man: Far From Home,” which became the first “Spider-Man” film ever to gross $1 billion worldwide earlier this week. The MCU film took in $12 million to bring its domestic total to $344 million, passing the domestic run of “Spider-Man: Homecoming.” With a global total of $1.03 billion, “Far From Home” now sits only behind “Skyfall” on Sony’s all-time box office charts.

Taking fourth is Disney/Pixar’s “Toy Story 4,” which now has a global total of $917 million after six weekends in theaters. It added $9.8 million domestically this weekend to bring its total to $395 million. Paramount’s “Crawl,” which is enjoying strong post-release buzz on social media, completes the top five with $4 million and a $31 million total.