When the original was released, The Lion King became one of the most successful animated movies ever made. It was a near certainty that, when Disney began to find fresh success in remaking its animated classics, that The Lion King would be back on the big screen before too long. We're still a few weeks away from the remake's release, but it's clear that the love for The Lion King has not faltered in the least, as the movie is already setting ticket pre-sale records.
Fandango reports that, in the first 24 hours that tickets were on sale, The Lion King outpaced all of the other Disney adaptations the studio has released. It also outpaced the first 24 hours of tickets for the recent Toy Story 4, a movie which went on to make $120 million in its opening weekend.
The fact that The Lion King is pre-seliing more tickets than any other Disney adaptation is actually pretty big news. Disney's 2017 adaptation of Beauty and the Beast ended up doing $1.2 billion in business and is the 15th highest grossing movie ever made, unadjusted for inflation. The Lion King is doing better with ticket sales right now than that movie did, which means we at the very least have the potential to see another billion dollar box office hit for Disney.
It's honestly not all that surprising. the original Lion King almost broke the billion dollar mark back in 1994. It was, at one time, the fourth highest grossing domestic movie ever. If you adjust box office numbers for inflation, the original Lion King is actually the 20th highest grossing movie ever domestically, well ahead of the Beauty and the Beast remake.
Fandango isn't the only ticket selling website that's seeing The Lion King set records. Atom Tickets reports that The Lion King is outpacing every other family movie this year, as well as most of Disney's own product from the last couple years. It's sold more tickets than Black Panther did at this point, which was another massive hit.
Perhaps most telling, The Lion King sold four times more tickets in the first 24 hours than the recent Aladdin remake sold, That move saw an opening weekend of over $90 million and has gone on to gross over $800 million globally, so The Lion King's opening weekend is looking to be massive, likely second only to Avengers: Endgame for the year.
From everything we've seen, fans of the original will be quite happy with the remake, it appears to largely leave the plot and structure untouched, as Aladdin and Beauty and the Beast did before it. It seems clear this is the recipe for box office success, change as little as possible, keep the songs.
There does appear to be at least one "new" thing in the upcoming Lion King remake, a recent soundtrack listing included one "To Be Announced" track. Theories include the possibility that Beyonce could have her own song in the movie, which would be an addition, as the character of Nala doesn't have her own song in the animated movie.
This would be fitting with current trends, the recent Aladdin remake also gave the female lead her own song after the animated original failed to do so. Also, having a movie with Beyonce in it and not having her perform her own song seems like pure insanity. The only new song officially announced for the film is the Elton John penned "Never Too Late" that will play over the end credits. It's possible Beynoce could actually sing the song in the movie itself, or there could be an entirely separate all new song we don't know about yet.
As popular as The Lion King is, it still seems like the movie has been sneaking up on us. With Avengers: Endgame and Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker coming out in 2019, that's where the box office conversation has been focused, but odds are that The Lion King will absolutely be one of the highest grossing movies of the year. It's been a popular movie for 25 years. There are multiple generations that are fans who will likely turn out to watch the remake. Entire families will be checking out the movie and those ticket sales are all going to add up.
It seems unlikely that The Lion King will ultimately compete with Avengers: Endgame. It probably isn't going to do $1 billion around the world on its opening weekend, but at the same time if that did happen, it shouldn't be all that surprising. The movie made more than a half billion dollars internationally during an era when Hollywood films were doing a fraction of the business internationally that they're doing now. Those numbers could go way up.
Family films also have a tendency to have legs and see smaller box office drops from week to week than other movies. Whatever business The Lion King doesn't do upon opening it could more than make up for in the weeks following release. The only reason The Lion King might not take over Endgame is that to do so it will have to become the highest grossing movie of all time, which is a tall order.
Currently, Disney holds the top three slots at both the domestic and international box office with Avengers: Endgame, Captain Marvel, and Aladdin. The Lion King will certainly make it the top four. It was clear when this year began that Disney was going to be essentially unstoppable at the box office, but the studio is exceeding even the expectations that most analysts had.
There are still a couple weeks before The Lion King hits theaters, which means there's plenty of time for people to pick up tickets early. All those sales will be added into the film's opening weekend. If early sales remain brisk the opening weekend is just going to blow the doors off a summer that has, otherwise, been somewhat underwhelming. A lot of movies that were expected to do well have not seen the success that was predicted. However, it seems quite clear that The Lion King won't be one of those movies.