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Disney has never had trouble making money with the remakes of animated classics. It's the main reason that we're getting three of them this year. However, the level of success can still be quite variable. Beauty and the Beast make a billion dollars while Cinderella made only half a billion. Dumbo may turn out to see numbers on the lower end of that spectrum, but it's still looking like it will have a pretty impressive global opening, as the film is currently tracking to bring in something around $140 million for it's opening weekend.
Dumbo is opening in nearly every territory where it is opening at all by this Friday. That means that this weekend is going to be key to the overall success of the film. It's opening in the U.S. and China, the two biggest box office markets in the world, which means it's pretty much all downhill from here.
The official range for Dumbo's opening weekend, according to Deadline is between $137-$155 million. The U.S. is looking to make up a bit less than half that business as the domestic number currently projected is around $60 million at the low end. It doesn't have much competition for the box office title. No other major wide releases are hitting screens on Friday. Jordan Peele's Us will probably have a solid second weekend, but that movie really isn't competing with Dumbo for audience share.
For comparison, 2015's Cinderella saw a domestic opening weekend of $67 million and ended up grossing $543 million globally. If Dumbo finds itself on the low end of projections, it could end up coming in beneath that number. Still, when your competition is a series of films that have largely made a half billion dollars or more, you can come up short by comparison and still be a massive hit in absolute numbers.
Dumbo is the earliest of the Disney animated films to be given the remake treatment, which is something of a double-edged sword. On the one hand, it's had the longest time to become popular to multiple generations. At the same time, it may not resonate with fans in quite the same way as a more modern film simply because of its age.
Regardless of Dumbo's numbers, it is sure to be a big year for Disney remakes. In just two months we'll see the live-action version of Aladdin, and two months after that we'll get the new version of The Lion King. Those two films are almost certainly destined to be box office successes. The latter film could find itself competing for the box office crown of the year if it does as well as the animated original.