Resistance Is Futile: With ‘The Lion King,’ the Public Roars for Retreads

IndieWire | 7/21/2019 | Staff
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This is what movies look like in summer 2019: This weekend, 87% of the box office went to films from Disney plus a non-Disney Marvel release. About 90% went to franchises, sequels, or remakes. And, they made a lot of money.

That’s good news for exhibitors, and for studios that provided the films. The message from audiences is loud and clear: Ignore naysayers who pounded on “The Lion King” for its high craft and low originality; give us more like this.

Lion - King - % - Weekend - Period

With “The Lion King” bringing 73% of the gross, this weekend brought in about $75 million more than the same period last year. That brought down the 2019 shortfall to just over $500 million, a bit over 7%. That’s a strong boost, which should continue with Quentin Tarantino’s “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.”

The bulk of the credit, of course, goes to “The Lion King,” with an assist from the heat wave covering much of the country. That boosted not only the #1 film but also the strong holds of several longer-running films.

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“The Lion King”

An $185 million opening is huge, but Disney’s claim that “The Lion King” is the biggest July opener ever demands a reality check against adjusted numbers. On that basis, it ranks at #5 ever; if the actuals are a little higher, it could rise to third. Among opening weekends, it is second best this year. Adjusted (again), it stands as #15 of all time. However, there are two categories in which it currently stands at #1 that really tell the tale.

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“The Lion King” now stands as the best animated opener, besting “Incredibles 2” last year ($175 million). And it is the biggest opening among all of Disney’s reworkings of cartoon classics, topping 2017’s “Beauty and the Beast.”

“The Lion King” made $443 million this weekend worldwide, and $531...
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