‘The Lion King’ Remake Roars to $23 Million at Thursday Box Office

Disney’s live-action take on animated classic surpasses Thursday total set by 2017’s “Beauty and the Beast”

The Lion King Simba Mufasa
Walt Disney Studios

Disney’s remake of “The Lion King” was feeling the love on Thursday night from audiences, earning $23 million in box office previews, a total that cracks it in the top 20 of all-time Thursday releases.

That’s more than the total earned on Thursday from Disney’s remake of “Beauty and the Beast” from 2017, which brought in $16.3 million before grossing $174.7 million in its opening weekend. Compare that to “Aladdin” from earlier this year, which swiped $7 million in previews and made $91.5 million in its first weekend.

Director Jon Favreau’s “The Lion King” is looking at an opening between $150-180 million, and while the film is facing some mixed social media buzz and a disappointing 56% score on Rotten Tomatoes, figures from Fandango say the film is the second biggest selling movie in presales in 2019 behind only “Avengers: Endgame,” suggesting it could easily outperform.

For some other comparisons, “Incredibles 2” last year brought in $18.5 million and opened to $182.6 million. Earlier this year, “Captain Marvel” scored $20.7 million at the Thursday box office ahead of a $153.4 million open. In terms of all-time Thursday preview totals, “The Lion King” slots in just behind “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1” at $24 million, placing it just inside the Top 20.

“The Lion King” also already has an international cumulative total of $130.5 ahead of the weekend. The film opened last week in China and so far has grossed $76.6 million.

Favreau’s film remakes the beloved 1994 animated film “The Lion King” with Donald Glover as Simba and Beyonce Knowles-Carter as Nala, with James Earl Jones reprising his role from the original film as Mufasa. Chiwetel Ejiofor, Billy Eichner, Seth Rogen, Alfre Woodard, John Oliver, Keegan Michael-Key, Florence Kasumba, Eric Andre, John Kani, J.D. McCreary and Shahadi Wright-Joseph also star.

“The Lion King” is set in the Pride Lands and tells a Shakespearean story of a lion cub who must accept his identity and assume the throne in order to bring peace and stability to the natural Circle of Life. The original “Lion King” remains the highest grossing G-rated film of all time, earning $968.4 million between its initial release and subsequent re-releases. The film also won two Oscars for Best Score for composer Hans Zimmer and Best Original Song for Elton John and Tim Rice, who return to the remake to record a new track.