In what’s to be the biggest opening of what’s so far been a relatively muted summer (at least compared to last year), Disney’s ‘The Lion King’ looks to open with a $200m roar as the only wide release of the weekend. Not much stands in its way of wearing such a crown, with the only competition being the 3rd and 5th weekends of ‘Spider-Man’ and ‘Toy Story 4’ respectively. The only troubling cloud on the horizon is ‘The Lion King’s iffy critical reception, which may well end up leaving a scar on its opening.
So, what’s opening this weekend?
Riding on strong audience anticipation, heaps of nostalgia, and, admittedly, Beyonce, ‘The Lion King’ enters into 4,500 cinemas this weekend and will comfortably beat ‘Toy Story 4’s $120.9m opening as the biggest of the summer so far. The film, starring the voices of Donald Glover, Beyonce, Chiwetel Ejiofor, James Earl Jones and more, is directed by ‘The Jungle Book’ and ‘Iron Man’ helmer Jon Favreau, and follows the story of Simba, Mufasa, and the rest of Pride Rock.
‘Lion King’s aiming bigger than ‘Jungle Book’ and ‘Iron Man’s $100m openings however, as the eyes are set on the ultimate Disney live-action remake prize: 2017’s ‘Beauty and the Beast’ and its $174.8m start. Both films were Oscar-winning powerhouses in their early-90s incarnations, but with ‘The Lion King’s $312.9m domestic gross ($422.8m after re-releases) trumping ‘Beauty’s $145.9m ($219m after re-release), could we see a similar pattern this time around?
It’s possible. ‘The Lion King’ was the 2nd biggest film of all time upon release in 1994, and still remains as the 4th largest-grossing animated hit in U.S. history. It’s 93% on Rotten Tomatoes, as well as general critic and audience consensus considering it to be one of the greatest films of all time, does potentially cause a stumbling block for the newest iteration, with its 59% Tomatometer rating showcasing a less-than-warm reception for the film. Even ‘Beauty and the Beast’ from 2 years ago managed 71%.
So what do we think for ‘Lion King’? ‘Beauty and the Beast’s $175m opening gives a reasonable target to aim at, alongside the similarly-anticipated ‘Incredibles 2’ ($182.7m) from last year. It’ll be a close-call, but our optimism will get the better of us again, as we forecast a $190m opening. This is enough to become the 2nd biggest opening of the year, and the 9th biggest of all time (just under ‘Age of Ultron’s $191.3m), confirming the film’s claim as the king of the jungle.
What else is on?
Not pleased with being 2nd place, ‘Spider-Man: Far From Home’ will draw ever closer to the $1bn global mark with a $24m domestic weekend – just a 47% drop in the face of strong competition. It’s a slightly better gross than that of ‘Logan’ ($17.8m), who faced off against ‘Beauty and the Beast’ in its 3rd weekend. ‘Far From Home’s already smashed through ‘Logan’s $226.3m domestic finish, with $330m on the agenda for Sunday night.
Last weekend’s top debutant ‘Crawl’ continues its swim up-stream with $7m this weekend, in its quest for the open $40m seas. Action-comedy ‘Stuber’, on the other hand, will struggle to get out of 1st gear, with less than $4m leaving it in the mid-teens by its 2nd weekend.