Quentin Tarantino’s return from a 4 year absence was truly felt this weekend, as ‘Once Upon a Time in Hollywood’, a historical drama based partly off of the Manson murders, opened to $41m – his best ever start. While it was a dream start for the Sony release, Disney crashed back to reality this weekend, as ‘The Lion King’, although comfortably reigning supreme in the Box Office with $76.6m, fell like Mufasa in its 2nd weekend by 60% – the largest of the recent Disney remakes.
How did the new releases get on?
‘Once Upon a Time in Hollywood’ had a fairy-tale $41.1m opening to become Tarantino’s biggest in the director’s chair, beating out 2009’s ‘Inglorious Basterds’ ($38.1m) in the process. The decision to wait 4 years to release his next film certainly paid off for the acclaimed director; the audience anticipation was showcased by the film being Tarantino’s biggest ever pre-seller on Fandango, and the $5.8m earned in the Thursday previews also marked the most any of his films have ever earned for that frame.
It also makes for good reading for studio Sony, with the film’s opening their 2nd biggest of 2019 thus far, beating the disappointing ‘Men in Black International’ (which opened to just $10m less). Only ‘Spider-Man: Far From Home’ lies ahead of it, while only ‘Us’ ($71.1m) and ‘John Wick 3’ ($56.8m) stand as the bigger R-rated openings of the year.
A small hiccup is the film’s audience reception, with its average B on Cinemascore dampening Tarantino’s career-best Tomatometer score of 93%. Previous hits such as ‘Django Unchained’ (which earned $162.8m stateside, $425.4m worldwide) and ‘Inglorious Basterds’ ($120.5m stateside, $321.5m worldwide) had at least an A-, while previous release ‘The Hateful Eight’, which disappointed wth just $54.1m stateside, and $155.8m worldwide shared ‘Once Upon a Time’s score. As international roll-outs aren’t to start for at least another week, we won’t know for sure if ‘Once Upon a Time’ is Tarantino back to his Box Office-best, or the start of a decline for the Oscar-winning director.
How did the others do?
There was never any doubt that ‘The Lion King’ would continue its reign atop the Box Office charts this weekend. The Disney giant roared into life 7 days ago with the 8th biggest opening of all time, and similarly strolled to another win this weekend, earning $77m. Yet, this gross is a troubling one, as it marks a major 60% drop from last weekend, practically unheard of for a family film.
Perhaps its within this classification as a family film that lies the problem. Whether it’s the ‘The Lion King’ being the 2nd-best pre-seller of the year (behind ‘Endgame’) that proves it, or the fact that it opened to $200m, ‘The Lion King’s truly a tentpole movie doing tentpole numbers. Last year’s ‘Incredibles 2’ had a similar performance, dropping by 56% in its 2nd weekend, while ‘Endgame’ fell by nearly 60% in its 2nd and 3rd outings a few months back.
Now, ‘The Lion King’ sits just $30m away from the $1bn mark – a total both ‘Spider-Man: Far From Home’ ($1.04bn) and ‘Aladdin’ ($1.01bn) recently passed. The former continues what’s been a successful few days for Sony, becoming the studio’s 2nd biggest release of all time behind only ‘Skyfall’ ($1.11bn), while ‘Aladdin’ became the 3rd of 11 Disney live-action remakes to cross it, behind ‘Beauty and the Beast’ ($1.26bn) and ‘Alice in Wonderland’ ($1.03bn).