Simba’s roar was quite loud indeed as The Lion King made an estimated $185 million, Box Office Mojo is reporting. That was enough to secure it the best opening weekend ever for July, beating 2011’s Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2. It also surpassed the March 2017 debut of Beauty and the Beast, giving The Lion King the biggest premiere yet for one of Disney’s live-action remakes of one of their animated classics.
What went right here? Disney ran an absolutely terrific marketing campaign, wowing the internet last Thanksgiving when a surprise first trailer was launched on Thanksgiving Day. Indeed, the jaw-dropping visuals played a big role in helping to sell this movie, but even more important was the nostalgia factor, something which The Mouse House is often riding on. Simply put, it’s hard to overstate just how massive the original Lion King is in terms of pop culture significance, and like with Aladdin earlier this summer, parents who saw the animated film in theaters as children are now able to bring their own kids to the new one.
It’s worth noting that this is also only the fourth $100 million+ opening we’ve seen this year…and as with the previous three, Disney is the responsible party. No one knows how to dominate the theatrical marketplace like them (they can more than afford Dumbo’s somewhat underwhelming performance back in March), and they still have Frozen II and Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker on deck before 2019 is over, as well as a Maleficent sequel (though, as we’ve said before, the mid-October release date for that one is very bizarre, especially since the film was originally supposed to come out as a summer tentpole). So far, The Lion King has already made more than $500 million worldwide.
Speaking of Disney, Toy Story 4 continued its strong run–even when playing against The Lion King–and now has a total of $375 million. At the rate it’s going, it will almost certainly top Toy Story 3’s final tally of $415 million. Similarly, Aladdin also remained in the top ten, with a current bounty of $340 million. Lastly, as we’ve already reported elsewhere, Avengers: Endgame finally managed to barely creep past Avatar to become the biggest movie of all time worldwide, but James Cameron will have a shot at taking the title back when Avatar 2 comes out in 2021.
Final figures are due tomorrow.