Simba and Mufasa reigned supreme this weekend as Disney’s “The Lion King” dominated box office charts.
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In yet another win for Disney, the movie landed the best domestic launch for a PG film and set a new record for the month of July.
Overseas, “The Lion King” felt the love with $269 million for a global start of $433 million. The film launched in China last weekend and has since earned $98 million, boosting the worldwide haul to $531 million.
“We have a lot to celebrate,” Cathleen Taff, Disney’s president of global distribution, said on a Sunday morning call. “‘The Lion King’ has such a resonance in pop culture that you see all different types of people coming out. People wanted to be part of this.”
The state-of-the-art technology used to bring the Pride Lands and its inhabitants to life drew a polarizing response from reviewers, but the newest version of Disney’s crown jewel proved to be critic-proof, and the prospect of hearing Donald Glover’s Simba and Beyonce’s Nala harmonize to Disney classics was irresistible.
Moviegoers flocked en masse to see Simba’s grand return to the big screen, and to much enthusiasm. “The Lion King” holds an A CinemaScore.
Audiences also shelled out to see the hyper-realistic movie in the best quality possible. Imax theaters accounted for $25 million of tickets sold, while 36% of global ticket sales came from 3D screens.
“The Lion King” provided a much-needed jolt to the domestic box office. Heading into the weekend, box office receipts were pacing over 9% behind last year. Now, theatrical earnings are down just over 7%, according to Comscore.
“The Lion King” is already one of the most recognizable stories across the world, but the remake benefited from an equally buzzy voice cast including Glover as Simba, Beyonce as Nala, Chiwetel Ejiofor as Scar, and Billy Eichner and Seth Rogen as Timon and Pumbaa. James Earl Jones reprised his role as Mufasa from the original movie. The updated version also includes a new song from Beyonce.
Disney has re-imagined five of its classics to mostly consistent success. Outside of “The Lion King,” 2017’s “Beauty and the Beast” had the strongest start with $174 million, followed by 2010’s “Alice in Wonderland” launched with $116 million. In 2016, Favreau’s “The Jungle Book” earned a strong $103 million in its inaugural weekend.
In May, Guy Richie’s “Aladdin” debuted with $91.5 million and is approaching the $1 billion mark globally. However, Tim Burton’s “Dumbo” stumbled with $45 million earlier this year.
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