Moviegoers may have tired of franchise sequels and reboots this summer, but there’s apparently still a huge appetite for Disney’s live-action remakes. Aladdin, which opened over two months ago and is still in the top ten this week, having earned $339 million and close to $1 billion worldwide, did not diminish the interest in another live-action remake of Lion King. The Jon Favreau directed movie earned a whopping $185 million this weekend, good for the eighth best opening of all time and the best opening ever for a family-friendly PG film, narrowly edging out Incredibles 2. On top of that, the film has earned over $346 million overseas already, priming Lion King to be another $1 billion worldwide hit for the studio, and 36 percent of the film’s estimated $531 million worldwide gross came from the 3D format, much of which came from RealD theaters worldwide.
There’s not much to the secret of Lion KIng’s success. Disney took the most popular film in its animated catalog and essentially made the same movie again, using gorgeous, photo-realistic CGI and a talented and popular voice cast, including Donald Glover, Beyonce, Seth Rogen, Billy Eichner, John Oliver, and James Earl Jones. Critics were mixed on the film, giving it a 55 percent on Rotten Tomatoes, but what most critics disliked about it — that it was essentially an imitation of their earlier animated film — is mostly what audiences loved about it. The film received an A Cinemascore, and I’m sure that children — who can watch the same movie 15 times without losing interest — were excited to see it a 16th time in a different format. I guess the only question now is, what is Disney going to do when it runs out of classic animated movies to remake as live-action films in a few years?
There were no other new wide releases this weekend, as the studios gave wide berth to Lion King. Spider-Man: Far From Home led all holdovers, raking in another $21 million to bring its three-week total to $319 million. It’s now crossed $900 million worldwide as it makes another $1 billion run for Sony. Yet another Disney film, Toy Story 4, is holding down the number three position, earning $14.2 million to bring its five-week total to $375 million. In fact, once Lion King takes its place likely as the number two film of the year behind Avengers: Endgame, the top five films of 2019 are all likely to be Disney owned (and the number six film is Disney adjacent Spider-Man, which is part of Disney’s MCU.