The Lion King is Disney's next major tentpole of the summer, but how much did it cost to make? When the Mouse House began producing re-interpretations of their animated titles earlier this decade, it was only a matter of time before they got to The Lion King. Arguably the peak achievement of the studio's 1990s renaissance, the original animated classic has stood the test of time and remains one of the most beloved works in its genre. A remake was confirmed back in 2016, shortly after director Jon Favreau's The Jungle Book remake became a critical and commercial hit.
After years of hype and anticipation (buoyed by a stellar voice cast), The Lion King is finally set to hit theaters. Unfortunately, reviews have been quite mixed. While critics praised the astounding visual effects, many felt the "live-action" version of The Lion King lacked the genuine heart and emotion of its predecessor. Still, the remake is expected to be a huge box office hit, which is just what Disney needs. As one might expect, The Lion King wasn't exactly cheap to make.
The reported budget for The Lion King is around $260 million. This makes it the most expensive of the modern live-action Disney re-imaginings by far. As a comparison, Favreau's The Jungle Book cost $175 million to make. This year's other Disney re-imaginings, Dumbo and Aladdin, cost $170 million and $183 million, respectively.
Considering the sheer amount of work that went into completing The Lion King, it isn't surprising that its price tag is that hefty. As many have pointed out, this isn't a "live-action" film like the recent Aladdin and Beauty and the Beast were. The Lion King is photorealistic animation, with its environments and characters crafted in the computer. Principal photography began back in 2017, meaning post-production was an extensive and painstaking process that required a lot of money and resources. The Lion King visual effects are largely without precedent, combining motion capture with virtual reality and augmented reality technology. Basically, it's a step above what Favreau used to great effect on The Jungle Book. Groundbreaking technology needed to be developed in order to pull this off, and Disney (and other studios) will look to use it again on future projects. The film itself may be a tad underwhelming, but most everyone is in agreement that The Lion King is an incredible CGI achievement that marks the next step in filmmaking evolution.
Going by the general rule of thumb, The Lion King would need to gross approximately $520 million just to break even. Despite the mixed word-of-mouth, the film stands an excellent chance of hitting that mark. Even after the first wave of reviews, box office estimates have it pegged for in excess of $150 million domestically, so The Lion King should be sitting pretty after this weekend. Especially after Aladdin grossed more than $900 million globally, The Lion King (which is arguably a more popular title in the Disney catalog) should be a major draw for the next few weeks.
- The Lion King (2019) release date: Jul 19, 2019