Disney’s “The Lion King” is taking its place as king of the box office, grossing an estimated $78.5 million from 4,725 screens on its opening day, as industry estimates now project a $175-190 million opening weekend.
Not only would an opening in that range stand behind “Avengers: Endgame” as the second-highest opening of 2019, it would break the July opening weekend record and possibly the record for animated films as well. The current July opening record belongs to “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2” with $169.1 million in 2011. The animation record, which once belonged to the original “Lion King” from 1994 to 2003, is held by “Incredibles 2” with $182 million.
“The Lion King” is also currently on course to top the opening weekends of its fellow Disney remakes. Director Jon Favreau’s previous entry in the remake series, “The Jungle Book,” opened to $103 million, while the top opening for the series was made by “Beauty and the Beast” with $174 million in 2017.
Critics and audiences are receiving “The Lion King” with scores nearly identical to those of “Aladdin” two months ago. While critics are divided with a 55% Rotten Tomatoes score, audiences enjoyed the CGI nostalgia trip with an A on CinemaScore and a 4/5 on Postrak. Rotten Tomatoes’ recently-added “Verified” audience score also reports a moviegoer rating of 89%.
Industry estimates currently show that approximately three out of four tickets sold this weekend are for “The Lion King,” so all other films on the charts this weekend took a big drop. Sony’s “Spider-Man: Far From Home” will still cross $300 million domestic this weekend, as it takes the No. 2 spot on the charts with an estimated $20 million third weekend total. Disney/Pixar’s “Toy Story 4” will reach $375 million domestic with an estimated $14 million grossed in its fifth weekend.
Paramount’s “Crawl,” which opened to $12 million last weekend, is estimated to drop 52% for a $5.7 million total and a 10-day total of $23.6 million. Universal’s “Yesterday” completes the top five with $4.7 million grossed in its fourth weekend for a $57 million total.