Box office preview: 'The Lion King 3D' hopes to reign over 'Contagion,' 'Drive,' and 'Straw Dogs'


I guess there’s a “Circle of Life” at the movies too!

This weekend, Disney’s technologically enhanced The Lion King 3D “Just Can’t Wait to be King” of the box office, as it’s being re-released for a limited two-week engagement. The film should “Be Prepared” for some light competition from Straw Dogs, Drive, and I Don’t Know How She Does It, but we’re sure Disney is saying “Hakuna Matata” about the newcomers. By the way, “Can You Feel the Love Tonight” that I’m expressing for The Lion King? That’s exactly the kind of nostalgia that should propel it into first place. But just how much will it earn? And how will other films do at the box office? Check out my full predictions below. 

1. The Lion King 3D – $18 million

Although many moviegoers won’t want to shell out $60 for their family to rewatch Disney’s animated classic in 3-D, the converted picture’s advanced ticket sales have been very strong, and it seems likely to climb to the top of Pride Rock the box office over the Friday-to-Sunday period. Will it match the $40.9 million wide release debut of the original 1994 run? Of course not. But that doesn’t mean it won’t be successful. Converting the picture didn’t cost the studio much, and since Disney will be releasing this on Blu-ray 3-D anyway, the theatrical run will likely be all gravy.

Back in 2009, Disney’s Toy Story/Toy Story 2 3-D double feature earned $12.5 million in its opening weekend, but Lion King, which doesn’t come with the daunting prospect of sitting through two entire movies, may improve on that figure a bit. Many parents who grew up with The Lion King now have youngsters of their own to take to the film, and even those who don’t have children may be excited to revisit their childhood. I’m going to be bold and say the film, which is playing in 2,330 locations (a few of which will show the film in 2D) takes in a strong $18 million this weekend.

2. Contagion – $12.3 million

Last weekend’s champ is typically the kind of movie that would hold very well in its second weekend — it’s got strong reviews and an A-list cast — but its “B-” CinemaScore grade was not as contagious as Warner Bros. might have hoped. The thriller may drop by about 45 percent to $12.3 million, giving it a $42 million total.

3. Drive – $11 million

Ryan Gosling may be a critical darling and an audience favorite, but he doesn’t have much heft at the box office just yet. His latest film, Drive, about a stuntman who moonlights as a getaway driver, is earning strong reviews, though it may be just a bit too artsy for general audiences to truly embrace it (especially younger audiences — the film carries an R rating). Without much buzz heading into Drive‘s release, it’s clear that it won’t be another Fast and the Furious. Still, the FilmDistrict release has a wide theater count of 2,886 locations, and its Best Director win at the Cannes Film Festival earlier this year may attract more critic-conscious audiences. It may find $11 million this weekend.

4. Straw Dogs – $10 million

This violent, R-rated remake starring James Marsden and Alexander Skarsgard hasn’t garnered much excitement in the months leading up to its release, and Sony dumping it in the box office graveyard of September isn’t a major vote of confidence, either. Like Drive, Straw Dogs lacks a major box office draw (I’d say Marsden is a rom-com draw, though), and its lackluster reviews will keep away many older moviegoers. Playing in 2,408 theaters, the revenge thriller might take in $10 million.

5. I Don’t Know How She Does It – $7 million

Sarah Jessica Parker’s latest romantic comedy, I Don’t Know How She Does It, debuts in 2,476 theaters this weekend, but, like Parker’s other recent rom-com, Did You Hear About The Morgans?, it may struggle to fill seats at the theater. With poor reviews and little appeal for men or young audiences, I Don’t Know How She Does It, which cost The Weinstein Co. a little more than $20 million, might turn in a disappointing $7 million debut.

Follow Grady on Twitter: @BoxOfficeJunkie

Comments (48 total) Add your comment
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  • LOL

    I see that u think that the Lions will Rise Again and even though I think you might be a way off with the prediction of the Lion King at #1. Drive will probably be first.

    • craig

      we can only hope.

      • WRONG

        The best movie out now is The Warrior.
        I wonder if the Lion King being rereleased had anything to do with Johnathan Taylor Thomas coming back from hiding and into the public eye again

      • Templar

        Ugh, I hated TLK.

    • Keith

      From your mouth to god’s ears, but I think that’s unlikely.

  • Woot

    God I hope Lion King doesn’t win the weekend. Great movie and all, defined my childhood and stuff…. but I hate when movies get rereleased just so companies can make more money off it.

    • SC

      Er, why? Why shouldn’t great movies be rereleased to give people more chances to see them on the big screen? Pre-home video, that was the only way people got to see old movies.

      • Brett Ming

        totally agree!!! i will be there for ghostbusters and top gun as well!!!!

      • Diane

        I’d kill to see a big screen, great sound version of Casablanca.

    • mari

      I would rather they “re-release” than remake :D

      • @mari

        Then Hollywood wouldn’t have anything new to release.

      • @@mari

        Or remake.

    • Tony

      Im Not Watching it, No point in watching it when the Blu Ray comes out in 2 weeks…

      • Mehmet

        Posted on I simply could not darpet your site prior to suggesting that I extremely enjoyed the standard information a person supply to your visitors? Is going to be back incessantly in order to check out new posts

  • LOL

    America is gonna love recycled crap this weekend.

    • m1

      If you’re referring to your comments, then yes.

    • Brett Ming

      you are recycled crap!!!!

    • LOL

      I am but a humble truth teller. People don’t always like hearing the truth, but it is my duty as an American to speak the truth. Since Fast Five, Hollywood hasn’t released a good film, not even half as good. We need to wake up Hollywood, give them a zero at the box office this weekend, stay home and read a book. Maybe then they will finally release even an ok movie, I don’t expect another film to be the modern masterpiece Fast Five was, but come on Hollywood, throw us a bone here.

  • deedeedragons

    I thought they always land on their feet.

  • Keith

    I’d love to see Drive do as well as you’re predicting here, but I’m finding this estimate high for some reason. I adore Gosling and the film looks super super cool. But I have hard time buying audiences are going to turn out in these numbers.

  • E-A-G-L-E-S

    Lion King will rule this box office like it or not…girlfriend is beggin me 2 see it

  • Jose

    i think some people are overestimating Lion king 3D. Remember when avatar was rereleased and it was supposed to pull numbers in the teens but instead it pulled in the like $5 million?

    Anyway I see why some would think it would be number 1, it does have a wide appeal, but the 3D looks like a distraction. Thankfully my theater is also showing it in 2D so I’ll be watching that, aling with Drive wich I hope does well. I have heard the weirdest complaints against that movie.

  • rp

    Rooting for TLK 3D because I saw contagion already….

    If you like plague stories or aftermath/dystopias skip contagion and read Oryx & Crake, Blindness, Super Sad True Love Story OR rent Children of Men and 12 Monkeys

  • Karin

    i still believe that making a 3d version of the lion king is sacrilege

  • Lars Johnson

    Going to see it this weekend, lion king. maybe in 2-D or 3-D but im not going to pay for 5 people for like $80
    Ticket prices are hacked up these days

    • Larry

      You just need to just save 3D glasses from one movie you see, then you can just pay to see the 2D version(or a different movie), and go in and watch the 3D version.

  • Otis

    The “September Graveyard” is a self fulfilled prophecy. Release crap and get poor box office; release a quality movie and get great box office. As for Lion King, have the DVD. I’ll pass on spending big bucks at the theater.

  • Ben

    I want to hear from people who have seen the 3D remake of The Lion King Before I pay money to see it, because Most films that were first filmed in 2D and are rereleased in 3D look as Terrible as Most of the black and white movies look Horrible when they are Colorized. Taking a 2D movie and trying to turn it into a 3D movie usually fails as does taking a black and white movie and trying to colorize it. Advance ticket sales for The Lion King mean nothing, I want to hear from people who have actually seen the 3D movie, If it’s any good.

    • mari

      I’m no film techie but it is probably “easier” to convert 2D animated films to 3D.

      • Eric

        A converted 2D animated movie will probably looks much better than a live action film because it is a totally different process. To convert a regular film all they have is a flat film frame to attempt to add depth to, but animation is done in layers and I assume Disney still has all of the info stored for each character (all animated separately) and the backgrounds (foregrounds, background, etc.) So converting various layers of animation to 3D will probably get a very good looking result. I’m curious to see the results, probably enough to buy a ticket :)

    • Ben

      The reviews I have read about The Lion King in 3D confirm what I suspected about it. The story, music and art are still good, but, the 3D only adds a little depth to the movie. The Lion King 3D is not that much different than the 2D verison, execpt it costs a few dollars more and there are those stupid 3D glasses to wear. Watching a movie that’s been changed to 3D without the glasses, is probably not going to work for those who prefer the original 2D effect. It might be the number 1 movie for the weekend, but, that’s because of the weak other choices.

      • William

        SOAS007 on April 14, 2011 @maciejadams a little worry that this song is iomarml no it isn’t. It just points out the hypocricy of those that play the race card, for nothing, and those that take offence at everything, trying to stop free speach.

  • SWA

    Does anyone think drive will do well?

  • 6506126R

    The reviews for SJP’s new movie “I Don’t Know How She Does It” are not good, but if you are a SJP fan you will like it. Lots of laughs.

  • Dumbledore Fluffernutter

    Disney has a long tradition of re-releasing/recycling their animated features theatrically so that new generations can see them on the big screen. Of course they make more money off of them, but why is this a bad idea? What better movies would you want to take your children to see in a theater? Not sure about the 3D though- I read that it’s pretty useless in this version.

    • Peter

      Right. Born in the 70s, I still saw Fantasia, Song of the South, Mary Poppins, and Snow White in the theater as a kid because of re-releases. Obviously they’re not as necessary now but there’s still something to seeing these in theaters.

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