By Terrance Turner
Courtesy of Disney Enterprises, Inc.
Despite mixed reviews, Disney’s live-action remake of “The Lion King” has topped the box office this weekend in record-breaking fashion. Entertainment Weekly is reporting that the film earned an estimated $185 million in the U.S. and Canada from Friday to Sunday. This makes it the biggest July opening ever for a film, according to the Hollywood Reporter. (Yahoo! Entertainment claims that once one adjusts for inflation, the film actually ranks #5.) What the two sources agree on is that this is the biggest ever opening for a Disney remake. It also is the biggest domestic launch ever for a PG-rated film. (The worldwide total is roughly $531 million.)
A key to the film’s popularity, according to the Hollywood Reporter, is its broad appeal across racial and gender lines. “In North America, the film skewed female by as much as 60 percent. The demo mix was 44 percent Caucasian, 22 percent African-American, 20 percent Hispanic and 14 percent Asian/other, according to PostTrak.”
One Disney exec credited diversity as an integral part of the film’s success. “It’s a priority for us to bring different voices to the big screen,” says Disney distribution chief Cathleen Taff. “That’s what you saw with this amazing cast and the vision that [director] Jon Favreau and [Disney production president] Sean Bailey brought to life. The story resonated across the board.”