Simba and Mufasa reigned supreme this weekend as Disney's The Lion King dominated box office charts. Director Jon Favreau's remake of the animated classic collected a massive US$185 million (S$251 million) from 4,756 North American theatres during its first three days of release.
That figure represents the second-best domestic debut of the year behind Disney and Marvel's Avengers: Endgame (US$357 million). It also marks the biggest opening yet for a Disney remake of its original cartoons.
Overseas, The Lion King felt the love with US$269 million for a global start of US$433 million (S$589 million). The film launched in China last weekend and has since earned US$98 million, boosting the worldwide haul to US$531 million (S$722 million).
The state-of-the-art technology used to bring the Pride Lands and its inhabitants to life drew a polarising response from reviewers, but the newest version of Disney's crown jewel proved to be critic-proof. Moviegoers flocked en masse to see Simba's grand return to the big screen, and to much enthusiasm. The Lion King holds an A CinemaScore. Audiences also shelled out to see the hyper-realistic movie in the best quality possible. Imax theatres accounted for US$9 million of tickets sold, while US$25 million came from 3D screens.
The Lion King provided a much-needed jolt to the domestic box office. Heading into the weekend, box office receipts were pacing over 9 per cent behind last year. But the prospect of hearing Donald Glover's Simba and Beyonce's Nala harmonise to Disney classics was irresistible. Now, theatrical earnings are down just over 7 per cent, according to Comscore.
As for Disney's past reboots, 2017's Beauty and the Beast bowed with US$174 million, while 2010's Alice in Wonderland launched with US$116 million. In 2016, Favreau's The Jungle Book earned US$103 million in its inaugural weekend. The Lion King is the third classic Disney cartoon to get a big-screen makeover this year. In May, Guy Richie's Aladdin debuted with US$91.5 million. Earlier this year, Tim Burton's Dumbo kicked off with US$45 million.
In a banner weekend for Disney, the studio is now home to the highest-grossing movie in history. Avengers: Endgame crossed US$2.7892 billion (S$3.79 billion) at the global box office, officially dethroning James Cameron's Avatar.
Since other Hollywood studios refrained from releasing a movie against The Lion King, a number of holdovers filled out domestic box office charts. In a distant second place, Sony's Spider-Man: Far From Home collected US$21 million during its third weekend in theatres, lifting domestic ticket sales to US$319 million. The web-slinging superhero adventure has generated US$569 million at the international box office.
Disney and Pixar's Toy Story 4 landed in third, adding US$14 million from its fifth outing. That boosts revenues for the animated fourquel to US$375 million in North America.
At No 4, Paramount's alligator thriller Crawl generated US$6 million for a domestic tally of US$23 million. Rounding out the top five is Universal's musical rom-com Yesterday, which pocketed US$5.1 million during its fourth weekend of release. The movie has grossed US$57.5 million to date.