‘The Lion King’ remake is being trashed by critics, but there are big signs it will be a smash hit for Disney at the box office

Disney’s remake of “The Lion King” has a poor 60% critic score on Rotten Tomatoes, but it is likely to still be a box-office hit when it opens in the US this weekend. Fandango announced last month that the movie was outpacing “Aladdin” and “Beauty and the Beast” in presales, and it was projected to be the second-biggest preseller of the year so far behind “Avengers: Endgame.” The movie already earned $54.7 million over its opening weekend in China. Disney’s coming remake of “The Lion King” is not feeling the love from critics, but that is unlikely to stop it from driving audiences to the theater.

The movie, a “live-action” retelling of the 1994 animated classic from the director Jon Favreau (“Iron Man,” “The Jungle Book”), has a 60% critic score on the reviews aggregator Rotten Tomatoes. Indiewire called it “a well-rendered but creatively bankrupt self-portrait of a movie studio eating its own tail.” AV Club called it “joyless, artless, and maybe soulless.” Some however described that the movie was a “game-changing technological feat” but that those effects might also be its biggest flaw and came at the expense of the story.

But “The Lion King” is still expected to be a box-office hit when it opens this weekend in the US. “Aladdin,” another recent Disney remake, has made over $900 million worldwide but most recently had a 57% Rotten Tomatoes critic score. It earned $117 million domestically in its four-day Memorial Day opening weekend.

“The Lion King” is already outpacing “Aladdin” in ticket sales in the US, as well as 2017’s “Beauty and the Beast.” The movie-ticket service Fandango announced last month that “The Lion King” had the biggest first-day presales of any traditional Disney movie, not counting Marvel or “Star Wars.” Fandango said “The Lion King” was on pace to be the year’s second-biggest preseller so far, following “Avengers: Endgame.” “Beauty and the Beast” made $175 million in its opening weekend in the US and ultimately grossed over $1 billion worldwide.

“The Lion King” opened early in China on Friday, and it earned $54.7 million in its opening weekend more than “Aladdin,” “Beauty and the Beast,” or “The Jungle Book.” The Chinese movie-ticket service Maoyan is projecting the movie to ultimately make over $170 million in the region, according to Variety, which would make it the highest-grossing Disney remake in China. Disney is the only studio that seems immune to this year’s theatrical struggles, having grossed over 40% of the domestic box office so far.

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