'The Lion King' roars with $185-million debut

COMPILED FROM WIRE SERVICES
ISTANBUL
Published 21.07.2019 19:28
Updated 21.07.2019 19:29
This file image released by Disney shows, from left, young Simba, voiced by JD McCrary, Timon, voiced by Billy Eichner, and Pumbaa, voiced by Seth Rogen, in a scene from The Lion King. (AP Photo)
This file image released by Disney shows, from left, young Simba, voiced by JD McCrary, Timon, voiced by Billy Eichner, and Pumbaa, voiced by Seth Rogen, in a scene from "The Lion King." (AP Photo)

The Walt Disney Co. is ruling the box office again with the record-breaking debut of "The Lion King" this weekend.

The studio said Sunday that the photorealistic remake devoured an estimated $185 million in ticket sales from 4,725 North American locations. It's a record for the month of July and PG-rated films, and the ninth-highest opening of all time.

That figure represents the second-best domestic debut of the year behind Disney and Marvel's "Avengers: Endgame" ($357 million). It also marks the biggest opening yet for a Disney remake of its original cartoons.

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.

No other studio even dared to go up against "The Lion King" with a major release.

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. 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 $9 million of tickets sold, while $25 million 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. But the prospect of hearing Donald Glover's Simba and Beyonce's Nala harmonize to Disney classics was irresistible. Now, theatrical earnings are down just over 7%, according to Comscore.

As for Disney's past reboots, 2017's "Beauty and the Beast" bowed with $174 million, while 2010's "Alice in Wonderland" launched with $116 million. In 2016, Favreau's "The Jungle Book" earned $103 million in its inaugural weekend. "The Lion King" is the third classic Disney cartoon to get a big-screen makeover this year. In May, Guy Richie's "Aladdin" debuted with $91.5 million. Earlier this year, Tim Burton's "Dumbo" kicked off with $45 million.

In a banner weekend for Disney, the studio is now home to the highest-grossing movie in history. "Avengers: Endgame" crossed $2.7892 billion at the global box office, officially dethroning James Cameron's "Avatar."

Since other Hollywood studios refrained from release a movie against "The Lion King," a number of holdovers filled out domestic box office charts. In a distant second place, Sony's "Spider-Man: Far From Home" collected $21 million during its third weekend in theaters, lifting domestic ticket sales to $319 million. The web-slinging superhero adventure has generated $569 million at the international box office.

Disney and Pixar's "Toy Story 4" landed in third, adding $14 million from its fifth outing. That boosts revenues for the animated fourquel to $375 million in North America.

At No. 4, Paramount's alligator thriller "Crawl" generated $6 million for a domestic tally of $23 million. Rounding out the top five is Universal's musical rom-com "Yesterday," which pocketed $5.1 million during its fourth weekend of release. The movie has grossed $57.5 million to date.

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