‘Lion King’ Leaves Huge Paw Print As No. 3 On Deadline’s 2019 Most Valuable Blockbuster Tournament

When it comes to evaluating the financial performance of top movies, it isn’t about what a film grosses at the box office. The true tale is told when production budgets, P&A, talent participations and other costs collide with box office grosses and ancillary revenues from VOD to DVD and TV. To get close to that mysterious end of the equation, Deadline is repeating our Most Valuable Blockbuster tournament for 2019, using data culled by seasoned and trusted sources.


The Lion King

After Jon Favreau wowed Disney executives with his lifelike remake of The Jungle Book in 2016 ($966.6 million worldwide gross), the studio made a go at bringing another live-action (like) feature adaptation of its most prized and classic feature toon, The Lion King, to the big screen timed to its 25th anniversary. As Disney was prepping to launch its new streaming service to compete with Netflix in November last year, it assembled a platinum theatrical slate between the Marvel Cinematic Universe product and finale Avengers: Endgame, the final Star Wars movie Rise of Skywalker, as well as the live-action reboot Aladdin, the long-awaited Frozen 2 and Lion King here. All of this big-screen product when pollinated on Disney+ was part of the studio’s plan to drive subscriptions. Similar to exciting moviegoers on Thanksgiving Day back in 2014 with the first Star Wars: Force Awakens teaser, Disney did so again on Turkey Day 2018 with the first teaser of The Lion King. For a bit, it was the most viewed trailer of all time with a 24-hour global viewership record of 224.6M, before Avengers: Endgame upset that record with 289M in December of that year. Lion King opened in the late event-pic summer slot of the third weekend of July, and notched the best domestic opening for the month with $191.77M, unseating Warner Bros’ Harry Potter and the Dealthy Hallows Part 2, which held the record for eight years. China opened before the U.S. and rest of the world’s day-and-date release, collecting $100M in its first week. Lion King in its first 10 days of release (starting with China) had amassed $544M. Beyonce, who voiced the older Nala and had the songs “Spirit” and “Can You Feel the Love Tonight” singles on the soundtrack, was the social media star of the cast with 206M followers across Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, repping 22% of the film’s entire social media reach.


Here are the costs and revenues as our experts see them:


After $1.65 billion at the global box office, becoming the seventh highest-grossing movie of all time, Lion King rained $1.2 billion in overall revenues for Disney in global theatrical rentals, home entertainment and TV. Disney didn’t cheap out with a $260M production cost, $145M global P&A spend, and overall costs of $621M. We hear Favreau had a great payday here, taking the lion’s share of $60M participations. Disney walks away with $580M in net profit, 16% more than the half-billion it netted the previous year on Avengers: Infinity War, which was the No. 1 film for Deadline’s Most Valuable Blockbuster Tournament.

2019 Most Valuable Movie Blockbuster

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