Box Office Report: 'The Lion King' Still a Champ 17 Years Later

"The Lion King"
"The Lion King"
 Walt Disney

Disney’s re-release of The Lion King is mining gold at the domestic box office, where it’s on course to gross $15 million or better for the weekend and win the No. 1 spot away from three new films.

Families are turning out in force to see the 3D conversion of the 1994 animated classic (theaters also are playing the toon on some 2D screens), which is tied to the Oct. 4 release of the Diamond Blu-Ray edition of the film.

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Heading into the weekend, tracking suggested Lion King would gross $12 million to $13 million, but box office observers upped their estimates because of such strong sales on Friday (some believe the pic could even come in as high as $18 million, but others aren't as bullish).

Elsewhere at the box office, Friday night business will determine the fate of the weekend’s three new releases, but early returns suggest Ryan Gosling action-thriller Drive is in a close race with Warner Bros. holdover Contagion for the No. 2 spot at $12 to $13 million each for the weekend.

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FilmDistrict is distributing Drive in the U.S.; the critically acclaimed film and Toronto Film Festival favorite was directed byNicholas Winding Refn and also stars Carey Mulligan andBryan Cranston.

Heading into the weekend, tracking pegged Drive’s opening weekend gross at around $10 million.

Sarah Jessica Parker comedy I Don’t Know How She Does It and Rod Lurie’s remake Straw Dogs — the other two new films — are off to a softer start.

Early projections have I Don’t Know How She Does It, from the Weinstein Co., grossing around $7 million, although the number could be higher if word-of-mouth is strong among women, the film’s target demo.

Screen Gems’ Straw Dogs also is expected to gross around $7 million for the weekend, give or take. Box office observers cautioned that a more accurate read won’t come until Friday night since Straw Dogs — like Drive — is rated R, meaning it isn’t doing big matinee business.

Straw Dogs stars Alexander Skarsgard, James Marsden andKate Bosworth.

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