Aladdin was always projected to win the box office over Memorial Day weekend, but it became a much bigger hit than anticipated. The latest in Disney's recent string of live-action remakes of their animated classics, Aladdin's prospects seemed a bit shaky during the build-up to its release, with the film generating controversy. Early marketing materials didn't do much to inspire confidence, particularly the looks at Will Smith's Genie. Fans expressed concern with the CGI effects and feared Aladdin was a train wreck waiting to happen.
It also didn't help matters that after consecutive hits in the form of Cinderella, The Jungle Book, and Beauty and the Beast, Disney's live-action remake sub-franchise encountered its first snag with Tim Burton's Dumbo. That movie didn't fare very well at the box office, bringing in $112.9 million domestically for its entire run. But what could have been a sign of diminishing interest in Disney's re-imaginings proved to be a fluke, as Aladdin went on to become a massive hit.
In the U.S., Aladdin made $112.7 million over the 4-day Memorial Day weekend (nearly equaling Dumbo's total), which was good enough for the fifth-highest opening in the holiday's history. As of this writing, it's made $233.7 million worldwide, already making back its $183 million production budget. For a movie that at one point was expected to earn just $75 million for the extended Memorial Day frame, this was quite an accomplishment.
Aladdin still has a ways to go before it reaches its break even point (which should be around $366 million), but it seems likely it will clear that mark and then some. Even if it doesn't hold on to the top spot this weekend (Godzilla: King of the Monsters should win), Aladdin is still a hit family film and should have decent legs as the calendar flips into June. Word-of-mouth is solid, and those positive reviews came to the surprise of many. Granted, the 2019 Aladdin couldn't recapture the awe-inspiring magic of the 1992 animated original, but it was still seen by many as a fun movie worth seeing in theaters. Not to mention, the '92 Aladdin is one of the most popular titles of Disney's famed renaissance period, so there was a built-in fan base curious to see a new version of the legendary tale.
A key factor that played into Aladdin's success is competition. For a prolonged stretch, Avengers: Endgame was the talk of the town, racking up $2 billion in the blink of an eye. Even the well-received Detective Pikachu got lost in its shadow, tallying $120 million domestically so far. By the time Aladdin came out, there was a demand for a new blockbuster, and it filled the void. It goes without saying that it will be going up against some high-profile films in the next few weeks, but it got off to a great start due to ideal timing. And, this will only reaffirm Disney's strategy to remake their classic in-house titles for a new generation and bodes well for The Lion King later this July. Aladdin could have been a repeat of last year's Memorial Day for Disney (the infamous Solo disaster), but it gave the Mouse House reason to celebrate.