To date, there’s no better way to put it than Disney is crushing just about every single box office record in existence. Avengers: Endgame absolutely destroyed the opening weekend record and is now just a few million dollars away from breaking the record for highest-grossing movie of all-time worldwide, passing the now Disney-owned Avatar. It’s already had Avengers: Endgame and Captain Marvel top $1 billion worldwide, and it’s not impossible that Aladdin and Toy Story 4 will join them before their runs are over, not to mention that Frozen 2 and Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker are also basically locks to top the mark. The most billion dollar films that a studio has had in one year was Disney’s four in 2016, but Disney has the potential to have 7 of them this year, when you include this week’s movie The Lion King.
The Lion King is Disney’s final live-action reimagining of the year after Dumbo and Aladdin. (Well, if you count Maleficent 2 outside of the reimaginings because it doesn’t quite fit there, but I’m not sure where else it would go.) I think its fair to say that The Lion King was easily the most anticipated of those films and will pretty handily give Disney another win at the box office, which it has basically controlled since early March when Captain Marvel was released. So the question isn’t will it win the box office, but rather how much will it win by?
Currently, the industry expectation is between $150 million to $160 million, and though I have seen some places go as high as $200 million. That being said, the original The Lion King is also arguably the most popular Disney film of all-time, completely decimating pretty much every animated film box office record when it was released 25 years ago. In a way, the movie had a Frozen-like reception, except it wasn’t shoved into every single theme park that Disney had.
The one thing that’s holding me back from saying that The Lion King is going to go off for $200 million this weekend is that reviews for the film haven’t been great, currently sitting at a 59% on Rotten Tomatoes. That didn’t stop Aladdin from overperforming at the box office, but expectations are definitely higher for The Lion King and being dinged by the critics for a lack of heart doesn’t exactly bode well for the film’s attempts to endear itself to audiences.
With all of that in mind, I’m predicting a total weekend box office of $165.2 million for The Lion King.
With the total weekend prediction handled, let’s take a closer look at how The Lion King will fare each day of the weekend. To help with my predictions, I looked at some other Disney live-action reimaginings, namely, The Jungle Book, Maleficent, Alice in Wonderland and Beauty and the Beast.
The Jungle Book is probably the most similar to The Lion King, at least visually, because soon-to-be Disney Legend Jon Favreau directed both of the hevaily computer-generated films. Maleficent is an interesting comparison that finds its way here mainly because it was the only summer release, so it was helpful to see how the movie changed day-to-day. Alice in Wonderland is one of only three of the reimaginings to gross over $100 million its opening weekend and made over $1 billion worldwide, so it fits it in here as well. But finally, Beauty and the Beast is easily the best comparison to The Lion King. Both were highly popular films from the Renaissance period of Disney Animation that have stayed relevant to this day and have highly passionate fans who will want to see it opening weekend.
|Day||Jungle Book||Maleficent||Alice in Wonderland||Beauty and the Beast||Average|
When shaping my day by day predictions, I stuck pretty close to the splits from Beauty and the Beast, because the fact that it grossed nearly $175 million its opening weekend implies that it should have the closest comparison to The Lion King since none of the other films grossed anywhere near weekend one. Hence, those films all increased their box office take from Friday to Saturday, but I think that The Lion King will do pretty well at the Thursday night box office because a lot of millennials like myself will be looking to relive their childhood and see it that first night.
Taking Thursday into account, I’m predicting an opening day for The Lion King of $60.7 million, representing 36.8% of the weekend box office, a little above average, but right in line with the Beauty and the Beast number. On Saturday, I’m expecting an decrease of 2%, to $59.5 million, 36% of the total weekend box office. Family friendly films tend to have a pretty strong hold from Friday to Saturday, with most increasing because families can go together when parents don’t have work. On the flip side, blockbusters pulling in over $150 million in their opening weekend tend to have front-loaded Fridays, so it’ll be really interesting to see which of these forces wins the battle. Finally, I see Sunday dropping 24.5% to $44.9 million, 27.2% of the weekend box office, which matches up pretty well with what we can see from the data.
All in all, I’m not sure what to do with The Lion King. I could certainly seeing it ending closer to $150 million, but I also wouldn’t be shocked if the movie busted out and finishes near $200 million. It’s truly a toss of the coin, but that Rotten Tomatoes score has me a bit scared. One thing is for sure, the movie is going to dominate for the next month or so because not much is coming out to compete with it. All that said, you’ll have to check in Monday to see how well my prediction of $165.2 million holds up over the weekend.
Cole Geryak is a college Disney fan making his way through the world. He has ridden every single ride in Disneyland in one day, all while wearing a shirt and tie. Imagination is his middle name, and his heart truly lies in the parks.