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Hakuna matata, indeed.
If anyone wondered whether lukewarm reviews would pose trouble for the opening weekend of The Lion King, the answer is no. Ditto for concern that audiences are fed up with Disney remakes, as the movie scored the best start ever among its fellow stable of films after earning an A CinemaScore and glowing exit scores from ticket buyers.
The Lion King stampeded to $191.8 million in its North American debut — ahead of Sunday estimates — for a 10-day worldwide total of $543.6 million through Sunday (it opened a week early in China, where it has earned $97.5 million to date). The photorealistic CG reimagining of the 1994 animated classic was directed by Jon Favreau and features an all-star voice cast led by Donald Glover and Beyoncé.
In North America, the film skewed female by as much as 60 percent. The demo mix was 44 percent Caucasian, 22 percent African-American, 20 percent Hispanic and 14 percent Asian/other, according to PostTrak.
“It’s a priority for us to bring different voices to the big screen,” says Disney distribution chief Cathleen Taff. “That’s what you saw with this amazing cast and the vision that Jon Favreau and [Disney production president] Sean Bailey brought to life. The story resonated across the board.”
Here are the records The Lion King has bitten off, in addition to helping reduce the year-to-date revenue deficit at the domestic box office from 9 percent to 7 percent.
Biggest Domestic Opening of All Time for a Disney Remake
The previous best was Beauty and the Beast, which debuted to $174.7 million in March 2017, not adjusted for inflation. Alice in Wonderland started off with $116 million in 2010, while Favreau’s The Jungle Book launched to $103 million in April 2016. Earlier this summer, Aladdin bowed to $91.5 million on its way to its current haul of $988.8 million globally (it’s now assured of crossing the $1 billion mark). Not every Disney update has worked; this spring, Dumbo was a major disappointment.
Biggest Disney Opening of All Time Outside of Marvel Studios and Lucasfilm
Simba and crew roared past Pixar’s 2018 summer entry Incredibles 2 ($182.7 million).
Biggest Domestic Launch Ever for a PG Pic, Animated or Otherwise
Incredibles 2 was the previous crown holder.
Biggest July Opening of All Time
The Lion King beat out Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows — Part 2, which grossed $169.2 million in July 2011. Adjusted, however, the Boy Wizard still rules with $192 million unless Lion King‘s gross comes in higher when final weekend ticket sales are tallied.
Eighth-Biggest Domestic Opening of All Time
The Lion King edged Avengers: Age of Ultron ($191.3 million), not adjusted for inflation.
Overseas, The Lion King landed among the top five industry openings of all time in Russia, Brazil, Mexico, Australia and the entire Latin America region.
That includes the second-biggest opening in Russia ($16.7 million) and Brazil ($17.9 million), the fourth-biggest in Mexico ($18.7 million) and the fifth-biggest in Australia ($17.1 million) and India ($9 million). And in all material markets, Favreau’s film came in ahead of Aladdin and The Jungle Book, and ahead of Beauty and the Beast in most. In total, the movie earned $296.4 million for the weekend for a foreign total of $346 million through Sunday. It has yet to open in Hong Kong, Italy and Japan. Hopes are particularly high for Japan, where Aladdin is a sensation, grossing nearly $100 million to date.
July 22, 12:40 p.m. Updated with final weekend grosses.