The Lion King remake is most likely going to be Disney's biggest movie of 2019, not Avengers: Endgame (and perhaps not even Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker). With so many sequels, remakes, and superhero movies releasing this year, Disney is on track to have their biggest year ever at the box office. Of course, the two major players here are Endgame and The Rise of Skywalker, but it's nonsensical to consider The Lion King an underdog in this race, despite the fervent fanbases that Marvel and Star Wars have developed over the years.
Avengers: Endgame is regarded as one of the biggest movies of all-time, and rightfully so. As the concluding chapter if Marvel Studios' Infinity Saga, Endgame is projected to break box office records worldwide over its opening weekend. But what about after? This year's Avengers movie faces stiffer competition than Infinity War did in 2018. Rather than competing with another superhero movie (Deadpool 2) and a somewhat anticipated prequel (Solo: A Star Wars Story), Endgame is going up against heavy hitters like Detective Pikachu and Godzilla: King of the Monsters, both of which come from franchises that carry heavy weight in international territories.
Aside from the upcoming Godzilla sequel being hugely anticipated worldwide, the Pokemon franchise is already the biggest media franchise in entertainment history - and the first live-action Pokemon movie is something the entire world is excited to see. Both films may dent Endgame's box office run, but only so much that it may not become the year's biggest release. Sure, Endgame will gross astronomical numbers domestically, but it's the foreign markets that will decide its success. It's been that way for all Marvel movies, especially with the Avengers series. What's telling is that Infinity War didn't even beat Black Panther's domestic gross, despite having the actual Black Panther character in the movie.
But that's where The Lion King comes in. Even though no one expects The Lion King remake to flop at the box office, people are surely wondering just how well it might perform. Perhaps the best comparison at the moment, then, is Jurassic World's box office win compared to Avengers: Age of Ultron. In 2015, no one thought that a Jurassic Park sequel - a sequel to a franchise that had waned off in quality and had been dormant for more than a decade - could beat the sequel to one of the biggest movies of all-time: The Avengers. But it did. What we're looking at with The Lion King is that type of success but on the level that Disney is used to seeing with their remakes. So, Jurassic World... but amplified. It's the nostalgia factor versus hype factor.
Another comparison here - and the most recent time that nostalgia worked heavily in Disney's favor - is Beauty and the Beast. The 2017 remake grossed over three times more worldwide than its 1991 predecessor did, earning $1.264 billion at the global box office. If The Lion King matches that multiplier, based on its original theatrical run, it will earn approximately $2.3 billion worldwide; that's much more than Infinity War and even Star Wars: The Force Awakens. (Note that when The Lion King released in theaters in 1994, it became the second highest-grossing movie of all-time, behind only Jurassic Park.)
While Endgame will draw in millions upon millions of people, especially in its opening weekend, it's inherently geared towards fans and people with casual interests in the superhero genre. Nuclear families may not come out of the woodwork for a film like that, but they would for The Lion King. It's a specific type of film that will bring in entire families for weeks and weeks. And with very few actual competitors coming out until the holiday season gets underway, The Lion King can steadily rake millions of dollars over the course of several weeks - similar to Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle (another strong family film) - and ultimately come out on top.
- The Avengers 4 / Avengers: Endgame (2019) release date: Apr 26, 2019
- The Lion King (2019) release date: Jul 19, 2019