EXCLUSIVE: We’re hearing from non-Disney sources that Jon Favreau’s The Lion King reboot is doing some smashing business tonight with an estimated $22M-$25M off showtimes that largely started at 6PM (there were 5pm select fan screenings). Again with these estimates, sometimes they can fall outside the range we’re hearing from sources, but overall, it’s a great start.
While that’s not a July Thursday night preview record —Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2‘s midnight shows of $43.5M looks to still hold this record– Lion King‘s Thursday night cash stash is on the low-end above Captain Marvel‘s $20.2M (which repped 33% of its opening day Friday for a $153.4M opening) and on the high-end just under Black Panther‘s $25.2M (33% of Friday, for a $202M 3-day opening).
Bringing tonight within comparisons of Disney live-action adaptations of its classic toons, Lion King is already burying Beauty and the Beast‘s $16.3M Thursday night preview which yielded 26% of its opening day for a $174.7M opening. Heading into the weekend tracking estimates were between $180M-$192M. If Lion King clicks past Deathly Hallows 2‘s $169.1M, then it’s the best domestic opening ever for July. One rival studio marketing executive marveled today, “This film has had a 98 total awareness on tracking for a long time — that’s unheard of!” First choice for The Lion King is leaning heavier toward females than males.
Further evidence that Simba is bound to have a royal weekend: Fandango reports that the Favreau film is the second best pre-seller of 2019 behind Avengers: Endgame. Bad reviews with that Rotten Tomatoes of 56%? Well, Lion King is just all Hakuna Matata about all that when it comes to RT impacting its B.O. prospects.
Tomorrow, Lion King opens in 4,725 theaters becoming the widest domestic theatrical release of all-time, unseating Avengers: Endgame‘s first weekend footprint of 4,662. Abroad Lion King has already roared past $100M, a bulk of that from China. We’ll have more updates for you in the morning.