“The Lion King” Is Pride of the Box Office With Record-Setting Opening Weekend

The Lion King The Lion King (Walt Disney Pictures)

Disney’s latest live-action remake ruled the kingdom, while Avengers: Endgame finally beat Avatar to become the highest-grossing film of all time.

Twenty-five years after the original Lion King movie reigned supreme at the domestic box office, a brand new version of The Lion King dominated multiplexes across America this weekend with a massive $185 million opening weekend. This is easily the biggest July opening weekend in history and second-biggest opening weekend ever for a film that doesn’t belong to either the Marvel Cinematic Universe or Star Wars franchises (only Jurassic World did better). In summation, this opening weekend for the 2019 Lion King movie is pretty phenomenal.

Critics may have had mixed responses to the title (including our own Clint Worthington), but this new Lion King played like gangbusters to general audiences who turned out in droves as they usually do for these Disney remakes that aren’t Dumbo. The fact that the original Lion King remains beloved by viewers of all generations aided this new take on the material, while the presence of an A-list voice cast and cutting-edge digital technology helped ensure people didn’t just stay home and revisit their home video copies of the title. There’s little in the way of competition for family audiences through August, so expect Lion King to keep being a ferocious presence at the domestic box office.

In a distant second place, Spider-Man: Far From Home fell 53% for a third-weekend gross of $21 million. Far From Home has now grossed $319.6 million domestically after 20 days of release and will surpass the $334.2 million domestic gross of Spider-Man: Homecoming sometime this week. Despite the presence of a new Disney family movie in the marketplace, Toy Story 4 actually had one of the smallest weekend-to-weekend drops in the top twelve as it dipped only 30% for a $14.6 million fourth-weekend and a $375.5 million domestic gross. Still running noticeably ahead of Toy Story 3 at the same point, it looks like Toy Story 4 will end up with a domestic gross just under or over $420 million and finish its run as the third-biggest PIXAR film ever domestically.

Crawl dropped 50% this frame, a better than usual hold for a horror title. Grossing another $6 million this frame, it’s now grossed $23.8 million domestically after ten days. Yesterday had the best hold in the top twelve by far, dipping just 24% to add $5.1 million to a domestic haul of $57.5 million. Stuber fell 51% in its second weekend of release, adding $4 million to a domestic haul that now stands at just $16 million after ten days of release. 

Fellow Disney remake Aladdin fell 38% this weekend, a solid hold that is its largest weekend-to-weekend drop since its third weekend of release, a testament to just how well this one had held in its two months release. The title grossed another $3.8 million for a massive domestic total of $340 million and still looks on track for a final domestic gross just over $350 million while its worldwide box office haul looks poised to cross $1 billion.

Annabelle Comes Home added $2.6 million this frame (a 52% drop from last weekend) for a domestic haul of $66.5 million while fellow horror movie holdover Midsommar dropped 56% for a third-weekend gross of $1.59 million and a domestic total of $22.4 million. Rounding out the top ten was The Secret Life of Pets 2, which fell 52% for another $1.5 million for a domestic gross of $151.5 million.

The biggest news at the box office this weekend aside from Lion King making so much cash is that Avengers: Endgame officially became the biggest film of all-time worldwide, surpassing Avatar for the record with a worldwide box office cume of $2.790 billion. It’s an honor that’s only been passed to a few films in history and its $1.19 million thirteenth-weekend gross domestically (a 43% drop from last weekend) helped it get past that mark by bringing its domestic total to a massive $854.2 million.

Similarly impressive this frame was The Farewell, which proved it was no one-weekend wonder this frame by grossing $1.17 million from just 35 locations, for a per-theater average of $33,473. If this was its opening weekend, that would be enough to score the sixth-biggest limited release opening weekend per-theater average of 2019. The fact that this is its second frame of limited release makes that per-theater average utterly extraordinary. The Farewell has already grossed $1.6 million domestically and has plenty more ground to cover. 

The Art of Self-Defense expanded into 550 locations this weekend and grossed $1.05 million for a per-theater average of $1,919. That’s not an outstanding wide release debut but for such an unorthodox title, it’s not a terrible start. Self-Defense has now grossed $1.2 million. Rocketman fell another 41% this frame, grossing another $980,000 for a domestic total of $93.9 million. 

Moving into arthouse titles, Maiden grossed $255,715 from 84 locations for a per-theater average of $3,044 and a domestic gross of $850,195 while Wild Rose dipped 14% to gross another $255,000 from 195 locations for a middling per-theater average of $1,308. Wild Rose finally crossed $1 million this frame with a $1.1 million domestic total to date.

The Last Black Man in San Francisco dipped just 30% in its seventh-weekend of release, grossing another $249,918 from 149 locations for a per-theater average of $1,677 and a domestic total of $3.8 million. Pavarotti also held this weekend, dipping only 17% to gross $230,000 from 143 locations for a per-theater average of $1,608 and a domestic total of $3.9 million. In its ninth weekend of release, Echo in the Canyon actually went up .2% from last weekend despite losing 14 locations. Grossing another $207,459, this music documentary has now taken in $2.6 million.

Apollo 11 expanded back into 107 locations this weekend in honor of the 50th anniversary of the actual moon landing. Grossing $75,000 for a per-theater average of $701, Apollo 11 has now grossed $9 million domestically. Fellow documentary David Crosby: Remember My Name opened to $41,050 from 4 locations this weekend for a per-theater average of $10,263.

What a difference one big title can make. Whereas last weekend was one of the weaker mid-July frames in the 21st-century, this weekend was one of the biggest July weekends in history. The top twelve movies this weekend grossed a total of $247.6 million, up a whopping 54% from this same weekend last year when The Equalizer 2 topped the domestic box office. That’s also the third-biggest July weekend in history. This massive weekend has taken July 2019s monthly haul to just over $910 million. 

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