17 years after taking the number one spot at the box office in June 1994, Disney’s The Lion King has reclaimed its crown. Families flocked to the 3D release of the beloved animated musical, to the tune of $30.2 million for the weekend.
The final tally is a surprise to analysts, who predicted a modest $12-13 million re-opening, and a crop of new wide releases that included the nearly-perfect Drive (#3), that Straw Dogs remake (#5), and Sarah Jessica Parker’s ego-stroking I Don’t Know How She Does It (#6). In fact, the cartoon classic’s total is more than all three newcomers combined. Contagion moved to second.
Not bad for a movie made for just $45 million in the early ’90s and a 3D conversion cost in “the low single digits” (via EW). It’s especially amazing considering the movie has been available on home video since March 1995 where, according to The-Numbers, it has amassed an estimated $1.5 billion in global sales and rentals. Disney is releasing the film on Blu-ray on October 4.
Familes made up 74% of the audience, the majority (59%) of which were under 25. 92% of tickets were for 3D showings, which bodes well for upcoming 3D re-releases of other Disney/Pixar movies, as well as fan favorites like Titanic (April 2012), the Star Wars saga (starting with The Phantom Menace in February 2012) and, potentially, Top Gun.
The Lion King celebrated back-to-back weekend wins in the summer of 1994, before it was narrowly beaten by Paramount’s Forrest Gump. It ultimately made $312.9 million stateside, second for the year behind the aforementioned Tom Hanks drama. Plus another $15.7 million it earned when Disney released the movie on IMAX screens in 2002. Worldwide, The Lion King has raked in $826.6 million to date, according to Box Office Mojo.