The Lion King is now officially Disney’s biggest original hit ever at the box office. Original in that it isn’t officially based on any existing intellectual property, such as the Marvel movies or anything from the Star Wars franchise. Granted, there remains intense debate as to whether or not Disney ripped off Kimba the White Lion, but since The Lion King isn’t officially based on that particular cartoon, legally speaking, it’s original. With what it brought in over the weekend, the movie has now taken its rightful place as king.
Over the weekend, the Jon Favreau-directed remake of The Lion King earned an additional $20 million at the domestic box office. It’s total now stands at $473 million domestically and $861 million abroad, bringing its grand total to a mind-numbing $1.33 billion. That is especially staggering when factoring in the movie has been in theatres for less than a month. Either way, it now stands above Frozen($1.27 billion) as the highest-grossing animated movie of all time. It has also passed Beauty and the Beast ($1.25 billion) to become the studio’s most successful remake.
Overall, Disney has released just six movies that have grossed more. This year’s Avengers: Endgame ($2.79 billion), Star Wars: The Force Awakens ($2.05 billion), Avengers: Infinity War ($2.04 billion), The Avengers ($1.51 billion), Avengers: Age of Ultron ($1.4 billion) and Black Panther ($1.34 billion). All of those are part of pre-existing franchises, meaning The Lion King is about as big as it gets for something not connected to an adapted property. And considering that the remake still has a long way to go, it could easily jump up a few spots on the chart before all is said and done.
One interesting element to this whole thing is that there seems to be some confusion over what record or records The Lion King just broke. Even before the movie’s release, people were debating whether or not this movie is live-action or animated. While it looks photorealistic, the entire movie (save for one shot) was created using CGI, so it is technically animated. Jon Favreau previously revealed that he slipped in one real shot at the beginning to see if anyone would notice, which really only serves to complicate matters.
Whatever anyone wants to call it, it’s another brick in the impressive wall that is 2019 for Disney. The studio has already had a record-breaking year and they could wind up becoming the first studio to ever earn $10 billion at the box office in a single year. It’s also worth mentioning The Lion King accomplished this, despite a mixed response from critics, as it currently holds a 52 percent approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Yet, the audience rating is 88, so there is clearly a disconnect there, which seems to be an increasingly common occurrence. This news was previously reported by Forbes.