Disney is poised to have a very good weekend at the box office. Again. Director Jon Favreau’s “live-action” update of The Lion King kicked off its release with a whopping $23 million from Thursday night previews, marking the largest Thursday night gross of the year since Avengers: Endgame. That’s not only ahead of the pace of Aladdin, which pulled in $7 million in previews and went on to gross $91.5 million over the three-day weekend, but also higher than Beauty and the Beast ($16 million) and Incredibles 2 ($18 million), which debuted at $174 million and $182 million, respectively.
So yeah, one could say The Lion King is heading for a massive opening weekend, as analysts have it opening north of $150 million. This despite receiving more mixed reviews, as critics have praised the cutting-edge technology that brings the characters to life while also acknowledging that the film rarely veers off the iconic territory of the original. On top of that, the decision to make the animals photoreal limits the amount of emotion that can be gleaned from the characters onscreen, and as a result, the value of the 2D-animated original only becomes more clear.
But people love The Lion King and probably want to see for themselves. That’s good news for Disney, as its last few live-action remakes have been hit or miss. Things hit a fever pitch with the billion-dollar-grossing Beauty and the Beast, but there’s how the last few have fared at the box office:
Beauty and the Beast — $1.2 billion worldwide, $504 million domestic
Christopher Robin — $197.7 million worldwide, $99.2 million domestic
Dumbo — $352.1 million worldwide, $114.6 million domestic
Aladdin — $965 million worldwide, $335.3 million domestic
If The Lion King is as big of a hit as it looks like it’s going to be, the lesson Disney will probably take from this is the 90s movies make for the most successful remakes. And it’s no coincidence that the live-action Mulan is already slated for release in 2020 and a musical, live-action Little Mermaid is in the midst of casting . How soon before Hercules gets the live-action treatment?
For a full list of upcoming Disney live-action remakes, click here. And check back on Collider this weekend to see how high The Lion King box office soars.