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Weekend Box Office: The Lion King 3D

HollywoodNews.com: In a slightly shocking result that has several notable meanings, Disney’s 3D-converted re-release of The Lion King (essay) cruised into the number one spot over the weekend with a mighty $30.1 million. Acting as both a two-week advertisement for the October 4th Blu Ray release and a test run for possibly reviving the old ‘out of the vault and back into theaters’ strategy of old, the film didn’t just top the box office but very nearly set a record for the Mouse House.

In the realm of Disney cartoons that are NOT Pixar releases, The Lion King 3D is actually fifth on the opening weekend list, behind Tarzan ($34 million), Chicken Little ($40 million), The Lion King ($40.8 million), and Tangled ($48 million). It is the fifth-biggest September opening in history and came within $600,000 of besting the $30.7 million domestic gross of Disney’s Toy Story/Toy Story 2 double-feature 3D re-release October, 2009. That re-release, which was both an advertisement for the Toy Story/Toy Story 2 Blu Ray releases as well as the upcoming Toy Story 3, opened with $12.4 million despite Disney offering two shows for the price of one (IE – half the show times in a given day). So simply taking the Toy Story 3D opening weekend and doubling it gives you around $25 million, meaning that this weekend’s result was not quite as unexpected as its being reported.

If The Lion King 3D matches the 2.4x weekend-to-total multiplier of the Toy Story double-feature, then we’re looking at $71 million. That accomplishes three goals. First of all, it’s already surpassed the $339 million domestic gross of Finding Nemo, which means that The Lion King is now the biggest-grossing non-sequel cartoon of all-time. Second of all, a $73 million total will be JUST enough to get The Lion King over the $400 million mark, which just looks prettier. And finally, with $12 million in overseas added to the new domestic total of $357 million, the worldwide gross for The Lion King now sits at $825 million (Up yours, Shrek the Third!).

If this re-release does $73 million in America and $32 million overseas (a reasonable guess), then ends with $890 million and leapfrogs over Finding Nemo ($867 million) and most importantly Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs ($886 million). The $919 million worldwide total of Shrek 2 is the one Disney really wants to surpass (as it would mean that The Lion King and Toy Story 3 are the two biggest cartoons of all-time), but that seems unlikely, especially if this release does indeed close out after two weeks (doubtful…).

Photo by Disney Enterprises Inc.

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