Spider-Man: Far From Home is seeing something of an unusual release, as, rather than waiting for the weekend, it's opening in the middle of the week, specifically, on Tuesday, July 2nd. This will allow the film to cash in on the lucrative holiday weekend surrounding the 4th of July in the United States.
However, the previous Spider-Man film, Homecoming, could have done the same, but did not. Instead of opening early, it waited until the weekend after the holiday, July 7 to see wide release. So why has the sequel made this decision? More than likely, it's all about box office money. Specifically, it's about the money that The Lion King has the potential to make.
2017 was an odd summer for Disney in 2017. While the studio set a record for being the first one to ever reach $6 billion in global box office in two consecutive years, the company didn't release a single movie between June (Cars 3) and early November (Thor: Ragnarok).
While this didn't have a negative impact on the studio's bottom line in any major way, it did open up the rest of the summer movie season to be the summer of Spider-Man. While Spider-Man: Homecoming is technically a Sony production, it, like Far From Home, was produced in collaboration with Marvel Studios and the film is part of Marvel's Cinematic Universe. This means Marvel had an interest in helping the movie succeed, even if it wasn't technically a Disney production.
However, in the case of Spider-Man: Far From Home the schedule is a bit different. As of now, we're just a bit over two weeks away from the release of Disney's remake of The Lion King. It's the next major tentpole release after Spider-Man.
Considering just how big that The Lion King has the potential to be, it's likely Disney doesn't want anything getting in its way, especially something that it has some measure of control in. The earlier Far From Home can come out, the more time it has to make money before the release of Lion King, which in turn means Spider-Man shouldn't be eating into Lion King business when the remake hits theaters.
Spider-Man: Far from Home was originally set to open July 5, before being moved up to July 2. Even those few days have the potential to change the overall box office success of not only this film, but all of those that come after it.
While it's understandable for most to focus on Avengers: Endgame and Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker when we look at this year's box office race, The Lion King should not be underrated. The original film grossed nearly a billion dollars around the world and was one of the highest grossing movies ever when it was released back in the mid-90s. There's every reason to believe that the remake will do similar, adjusted for inflation, numbers at the box office.
While something like Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker might ultimately do more business around the world, its late December release means it won't do all of its business in this calendar year. By the time we get to the end of 2019 The Lion King will likely be the second highest grossing movie of the year, just behind Avengers: Endgame.
With the extra long 4th of July holiday, Spider-Man: Far From Home is going to do just that much more business during its opening weekend than it would if it opened on the fifth. All of that helps clear the way for The Lion King to have that much bigger a weekend.
The highest grossing July opening weekend of all-time is Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - Part 2, which did just short of $170 million domestically. It's quite likely The Lion King will best that number as even the low estimates at this point have the movie doing $180 million in its opening. That sort of success is just the sort of thing Disney loves to celebrate.
Seeing more competition from Spider-Man: Far From Home isn't going to change the massive opening weekend for Lion King, but it could, at least in theory, keep the movie from setting all the box office records that it otherwise would.
At the end of the day, Hollywood is a business and every studio is going to do everything it can to maximize its profits. This is why the competition for release dates is always an ongoing game, with studios grabbing dates years in advance, and several movies shifting around the schedule if a date ever opens up.