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Disney's 'Lion King' appears critic proof, on pace for $175 million US debut despite mixed reviews

Key Points
  • Analysts predict "The Lion King" will haul in $175 million to $200 million during its U.S. debut.
  • Over the weekend, the film earned $54.7 million in China, higher than the openings of "The Jungle Book," "Beauty and the Beast" and "Aladdin."
  • As early as April, industry experts were predicting that "The Lion King" could be the highest grossing film of the year.
A still from Disney's "The Lion King" featuring Nala (Beyonce Knowles) and Simba (Donald Glover).
Disney

"The Lion King" is a critic proof movie, analysts say.

Despite some mixed reviews from critics, the consensus is that the remake of the 1994 Disney classic will score at least $175 million in its opening weekend in the U.S.

Starting last week, reviews have been streaming in for "Lion King," which is due in theaters on July 19. As of this posting, the film has a 60% on Rotten Tomatoes from 143 reviews.

However, analysts aren't slashing their estimates at the box office.

"The movie was made for audiences not critics," said Shawn Robbins, chief analyst at Boxoffice.com.

While Disney pegs the film's domestic opening at around $150 million, Robbins said the studio is usually on the conservative side when it comes to estimating its box office haul.

"['Lion King'] is one of those movies that could blow tracking out of the water," he said, noting that some have called for the film to exceed $200 million in the U.S. during its first three days in theaters.

"It doesn't matter what [critics] have to say," Jeff Bock, senior box office analyst at Exhibitor Relations, told CNBC last week. "People already want to see it or don't want to see it, and there are lots of people in the 'already want to see it' camp."

Over the weekend, "Lion King" earned $54.7 million in China, higher than the openings of "The Jungle Book," "Beauty and the Beast" and "Aladdin."

The remake is on track to be one of the most successful Disney titles in the China, according to local projections. On Friday alone, the film hauled in $13.4 million in the country, more than the $13.2 million three-day debut of "Toy Story 4″ last month.

This strong opening in China is a good sign for the film's opening this weekend in the U.S. and in most other international markets. As early as April, industry experts were predicting that "The Lion King" could be the highest grossing film of the year.