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411 Box Office Report: Once Upon a Time in Hollywood Starts Strong With $40 Million, The Lion King Stays at #1

July 28, 2019 | Posted by Jeremy Thomas

While Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon a Time in Hollywood got off to a great start, it was The Lion King which ruled the box office again this weekend. Disney’s live-action adaptation of its animated blockbuster brought in $75.5 million to claim the #1 spot. While retaining the top spot is good news, it was already a sure thing and there was a downside in the fact that it dropped 61% from last weekend’s massive opening weekend. That’s much higher than the 48% that Beauty and the Beast dropped, to say nothing of the 40% drop for The Jungle Book. To be fair though, Jungle Book at least had much less room to fall at a $103.3 million start compared to Lion King’s $191.8 million.

Either way, it’s not what Disney was hoping for and it does put a bit of a on the perimeter of the film’s sunny days. It suggests that the lackluster reviews are having more of an effect than the strong word of mouth. To be clear, the film is an unmitigated hit regardless. At present the film has $350.8 million domestically and is coming close to a billion dollars worldwide with $962.7 million. Even on a spendy $260 million production budget plus marketing, this is a major money maker for Disney in what has been a huge year for the studio. Right now the film looks likely for around $460 million to $470 million and perhaps higher if it stabilizes after this weekend’s fall.

Meanwhile, Tarantino’s ninth film started off great as Once Upon a Time in Hollywood opened with $40.4 million. That’s right around where most were predicting it for and marks the best opening weekend for a Tarantino film. The previous record was held by Inglorious Basterds which began with $38.1 million in August of 2009. It’s the second-best 2019 start for an original film, behind only Us’ huge $71.1 million opening in March. It’s also the best start for a Leonardo DiCaprio-starring film since 2013’s The Great Gatsby opened with $50.1 million.

The opening reinforces Tarantino’s status as one of the filmmakers who can open a film based on his name more than anything else. Sure, star value also helped a lot with this one, but Once Upon a Time in Hollywood was marketed and sold based on Tarantino’s name. All the trailers and marketing billed it not as a Leonardo DiCaprio or Brat Pitt film after all, but as “The ninth film from Quentin Tarantino.” The film was boosted by a ton of positive critical buzz, premiering at Cannes back in May and scoring a 92% consensus on Rotten Tomatoes. PostTrak reports that 47% of the audience came out primarily due to Tarantino, compared to 37% for the cast.

While $40 million may sound like a mild opening in the current landscape of Hollywood, keep in mind that Tarantino’s films almost always leg out. Even if you take the crazy outliers of Reservoir Dogs (19.16 multiple) and Pulp Fiction (11.59 multiple), Tarantino’s directorial efforts have a 3.57 average multiple of their opening weekends. That would put Once Upon a Time at $144 million, which would be a strong domestic number. Tarantino’s films tend to perform very well overseas as well, even when they have American focuses (see: Django Unchained which did 60% of its business internationally). The film cost $90 million, and the mix of domestic and overseas numbers should make this solidly profitable for Sony.

Spider-Man: Far From Home slipped to #3 in its fourth week, bringing in $12.2 million. That’s down 43% from last weekend’s numbers. The Sony-produced MCU film has $344.5 million domestically and has crossed the $1 billion mark worldwide at $1.036 billion, the first Spider-Man film to do so. Far From Home is taking aim at at least $370 million in the US, and if it holds better than expected it may even have a minor shot at topping Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2’s $389.8 domestic total become the ninth-best grossing MCU film. Either way, it’s a massive hit on a $160 million budget.

Toy Story 4 nosed down 37% in its sixth weekend with $9.9 million, taking its totals to $395.6 million domestically and $917.9 million worldwide. The movie is still on pace for around $420 million or so in the US, adding to Disney’s good fortunes. The production budget was $200 million.

Crawl came in fine in its third weekend, off 34% to $4 million. The alligator thriller is has pulled itself to $31.5 million domestically and $45.9 million worldwide thus far on a $13.5 million budget. In the US, it it’s looking likely to finish out at around $40 million and will reach profit once overseas numbers are tallied in.

Danny Boyle’s Yesterday sleeper run continues, as the musically-themed fantasy dramedy was down 40% in its fifth weekend to $3 million. The film now tallied $63.3 million domestically and $109.6 million worldwide against a budget of $26 million. It is still looking like it will cross the $70 million mark domestically, making a nice mid-budget hit for Universal.

Aladdin was down 32% in its tenth weekend, continuing its stellar run with $2.8 million. The live action film has $345.9 million domestically and has crossed $1 billion worldwide at $1.01 billion so far. Not to sound like a broken record here, but there are currently four films that have grossed $1 billion worldwide thus far and another two guaranteed to cross that by the end of their runs. Five of those six films are Disney, and one is Sony’s MCU film. Aladdin should total around $355 million by the end of its run, and is obviously huge even with a $183 million budget.

Stuber, meanwhile, is fading away fast. The Dave Bautista/Kumail Nanjiani action/comedy sunk 59% in its third weekend to $1.7 million, bringing its totals to just $20.1 million domestically and $25.3 million worldwide. This is going to be a money loser for Fox (and thus Disney), with maybe $25 million domestically. Even the relatively low $16 million budget is not going to be made back with marketing added in.

Annabelle Comes Home was down a solid 40% in its fifth weekend with $1.6 million. The Conjuring universe film has a total of $69.7 million domestically right now and $207.4 million worldwide against a $30 million budget. Its US run will end at around $75 million.

Coming in at #10 was Awkafina’s latest film, The Farewell. The dramedy about a woman who goes home to China with her family to say goodbye to their dying matriarch expanded from 35 to 135 theaters in its third weekend and brought in $1.5 million, bringing its total to $3.7 million thus far. The film has been building its grosses on critical acclaim and audience word of mouth, with a 100% RT consensus and strong audience marks across the board. Its future successes depend on how A24 handles its expansion and the box office isn’t known, but this has the chance to be a bit of an indie hit.

The Lion King will cede way for a new king next weekend in Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw. The Rock/Jason Statham spinoff of the action franchise is looking at around $80 million to start.
BOX OFFICE TOP TEN (Three-Day Domestic Numbers)
1. The Lion King – $75.5 million ($350.8 million total)
2. Once Upon a Time in Hollywood – $40.4 million ($40.4 million total)
3. Spider-Man: Far from Home – $12.2 million ($344.5 million total)
4. Toy Story 4 – $9.9 million ($395.6 million total)
5. Crawl – $4 million ($31.5 million total)
6. Yesterday – $3 million ($63.3 million total)
7. Aladdin – $2.8 million ($345.9 million total)
8. Stuber – $1.7 million ($20.1 million total)
9. Annabelle Comes Home – $1.6 million ($69.7 million total)
10. The Farewell – $1.5 million ($3.7 million total)