Box Office: 'The Lion King' Bites Off Huge $78.5M Friday

The Lion King Live-Action Still 17 - Publicity-H 2019
Courtesy of Disney Enterprises, Inc.

That's the 10th biggest opening day of all time at the North American box office. Overseas, the movie's earnings climb to $192 million.

Jon Favreau's The Lion King is feeling the love at the North American box office, where it's on course to score the biggest opening ever for a Disney remake of a classic animated film.

The movie grossed $78.5 million from 4,275 theaters on Friday for a projected weekend haul of $180 million to $200 million. Moviegoers disregarded lukewarm reviews, giving the pic an A CinemaScore.

In terms of other Disney remakes, Beauty and the Beast opened to $175 million in 2017, followed by Alice in Wonderland with $116 million and $103 million for Favreau's The Jungle Book in 2016. This summer, Aladdin bowed to $91.5 million on its way to currently resting at north of $960 million globally.

Beauty and the Beast and Aladdin are both live action, while The Lion King employs groundbreaking photorealistic CG technology.

Simba and crew also will have no trouble delivering the second-biggest opening of the year at the troubled domestic box office, where revenue is down 9 percent over 2019. And Friday's haul was the 10th highest opening day of all time, not adjusted for inflation.

In late March, Marvel and Disney's final Avengers installment debuted to a record-shattering $357.1 million domestically, the biggest start of all time. In terms of other 2019 pics, Captain Marvel opened to $153.4 million in March, while Toy Story 4 launched with $120.9 million last month (both films are likewise from the Disney empire).

The Lion King is also poised to score the top opening for the month of July, besting the final Harry Potter pic ($169 million), not adjusted for inflation.

The movie's star-studded voice cast features Donald Glover as Simba and Beyoncé Knowles-Carter as Nala, with Seth Rogen, Alfre Woodard, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Billy Eichner, John Kani and John Oliver playing other classic characters from the 1994 original. James Earl Jones reprises his original role as Mufasa.

Friday's gross includes an impressive $23 million in Thursday night previews, the best preview showing of all time for a PG pic after unseating Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince ($22.2 million).

The Lion King is also roaring loudly overseas, where it has grossed an early $192 million from 52 markets, including $81 million from China, where it first opened last weekend. The tentpole is roaring into almost every foreign territory this weekend, with the exception of Hong Kong (July 25), Japan (Aug. 9) and Italy (Aug. 21).

July 20, 7:45 a.m. Updated with Friday grosses.