One of the pillars of Disney’s absurdly stacked 2019 theatrical slate is the live-action remakes of the studio’s animated classics. The first of this year’s remakes, Dumbo, just hit theaters at the end of March and now we can begin to look ahead at the next one on the docket, May’s Aladdin. Although Dumbo may be an exception, past live-action remakes have proven especially lucrative for Disney. So, will Aladdin too enjoy Cave of Wonders-like riches at the box office?
The early tracking is in for director Guy Ritchie’s remake of the beloved 1992 film and if one of Disney’s wishes was for Aladdin to have a big opening weekend, that wish looks like it may be granted. Opening over the long Memorial Day weekend, Aladdin is tracking at a three-day weekend between $70 million and $95 million and a four-day between $85 million and a huge $115 million according to Box Office Pro.
After Dumbo’s somewhat lackluster debut a couple of weeks back, a big opening for Aladdin could get these live-action remakes back in the win column. Dumbo opened below expectations to $45.9 million, which is on the lower end of Disney’s recent live-action remakes, eclipsing only Pete’s Dragon and Alice Through the Looking Glass. Yet Dumbo faced mixed reviews. Plus, as a remake of a much older film, it doesn’t have quite the same nostalgic potency of something like Aladdin, which hails from the much-heralded Disney Renaissance.
This long-range tracking for the three and four-day weekend is very broad and could see Aladdin swing either way with the result being tens of millions of dollars difference. An opening weekend on the low end of tracking at $70 million would put Aladdin behind only Alice in Wonderland, The Jungle Book and the absolutely massive Beauty and the Beast, which opened to $174.7 million.
Based on the current tracking, Aladdin definitely wouldn’t take that top spot (The Lion King is coming for that), but it could overperform and surpass The Jungle Book’s $103.2 million opening to snag the third-highest opening weekend for a Disney live-action remake. Either way, it looks like Aladdin should land in the upper echelon of this category.
The original Aladdin opened back in November of 1992 and earned $19.2 million in its first wide weekend and went on to become that year’s biggest film at the box office, with a domestic haul of $217.4 million or $473 million in today’s dollars. That success is indicative of the love for the film and the nostalgic power it has over those who grew up with it. That bodes well for the film, as this tracking suggests.
However, nostalgia is a double-edged sword and the early marketing for Aladdin was met with concern at how Will Smith’s Genie looked, the visuals and the portrayal of Jafar. Following Robin Williams’ iconic performance --even 27 years later -- is no easy thing. The most recent full trailer assuaged some of these concerns, but bringing back Alan Menken to do the music alone may not be enough to win over the most particular of fans.
So it will be interesting to see how the marketing affects this tracking between now and the film’s release. On the competition front, Aladdin opens two weeks after Detective Pikachu and two weeks before The Secret Life of Pets 2, those films being the most obvious competition for the family-friendly dollar.
The Memorial Day weekend is a huge one for moviegoing and although not necessarily competing for the same audience, Aladdin does have some interesting competition opening opposite it. The sci-fi epic Ad Astra starring Brad Pitt opens that weekend, as does the R-rated superhero film Brightburn and the directorial debut of Olivia Wilde, Booksmart. That’s a heck of a lineup, so forget cookouts and go hang out in the theater that weekend.
Aladdin shows us a whole new world when it opens on May 24. Check out our 2019 release schedule to see all of the movies you can look forward to the rest of this year.
Nick grew up in Maryland has degrees in Film Studies and Communications. His life goal is to walk the earth, meet people and get into adventures. He’s also still looking for The Adventures of Pete and Pete season 3 on DVD if anyone has a lead.
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