‘The Lion King’ Sets Box Office Record For Disney

Published on July 22, 2019

Disney’s latest live action film, “The Lion King,” was set up for success as soon as it announced the full cast almost a year ago. Led by Beyonce (all hail the queen), Donald Glover, Seth Rogen, Billy Eichner, and John Oliver, to name a few, fans of the original cartoon couldn’t wait to see how the live action would compare to the original. Now that the film has hit the big screen, it’s made a massive debut that sets a new record for box office earnings from a Disney film in the first weekend.

The film follows a young lion named Simba (Glover) who runs away from his pride after his father Mufasa (James Earl Jones) is killed by a stampede. Simba is found by a warthog named Pumba’a (Seth Rogen) and Timon (Billy Eichner) and raised in the jungle on a diet of bugs. One day, Simba returns to the pride to claim his place as the leader of the pack, the position Mufasa had before his brother Scar (Chiwetel Ejiofor) took over after Mufasa died. For those who don’t know—it’s basically Hamlet, but with lions.

“The Lion King” Gets Bad Reviews

Despite the fact that reviewers gave negative criticism over the live action remake, moviegoers flooded into theaters to see the film when it came out last Thursday. The term “live-action” is relative, of course, because Disney still created CGI versions of all of the animals in the story instead of using real ones, just like it did with the “live-action” version of “The Jungle Book” when it hit theaters a couple of years ago. “The Jungle Book” garnered mostly positive reviews when it came out. Over time, it’s even earned a place among the best “live-action” remakes of all of the Disney remakes thus far (Tim Burton’s renditions of “Alice In Wonderland” and “Dumbo” usually ranking among the least favorites).

Many argue that the CGI “live-action” is what makes “The Lion King” so bad in the first place. Reviewers argue that because the film is so life like, it lacks the emotional connection to the characters that viewers need. In the original version of the story, for example, viewers could see visible changes in facial expression when Simba saw Mufasa get thrown off of a cliff by scar. The reactions from the characters gave a connection to the story that viewers needed in a film that takes Shakespeare’s “Hamlet” and puts it into the animal kingdom.

Low Scores Online — High Box Office Income

“The Lion King” received a low score of just 55% on Metacritic and 54% on Rotten Tomatoes, which takes audience opinion into account when compiling its score percentages. Other critics and viewers also pointed out that the live-action version of “The Lion King” lacks the effortless comedic break that the original cartoon version of the film was able to execute well. Despite the low scores, though, the film raked in as much as $185 million in just three days. “The Lion King” is now in all major theaters.

Julia Sachs is a former Managing Editor at Grit Daily. She covers technology, social media and disinformation. She is based in Utah and before the pandemic she liked to travel.

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