Sony’s much-anticipated comedy drama, starring Leonardo Dicaprio and Brad Pitt, will expand to 3,659 sites against the second weekend of Disney’s blockbuster remake of “The Lion King.” “Once Upon a Time” is promising R-rated counter-programming and should deliver a $30 million opening weekend, according to forecasts.
DiCaprio and Pitt share the big-screen with Margot Robbie, Al Pacino, Dakota Fanning, Kurt Russell, Lena Dunham and the late Luke Perry. The movie premiered at the Cannes Film Festival, 25 years after Tarantino’s signature “Pulp Fiction” debuted at the same site.
Reviews have been strong with a current 88% score on Rotten Tomatoes. DiCaprio portrays an aging actor with Pitt as his longtime stunt double in a drama set in 1969 Hollywood with Sharon Tate (Robbie) moving in next door to the home of DiCaprio’s character prior to the Manson family murders. Sony spent $90 million in production fees, a figure that doesn’t include global marketing costs.
Lionsgate’s “John Wick: Chapter 3” scored a similar Thursday preview total with $6 million on its way to a $56 million opening weekend on May 17-19. Tarantino’s “Inglourious Basterds” scored the biggest opening among his eight previous films with $38 million in 2009. The director’s “Django Unchained” is his biggest box office success to date with $425 million worldwide.
“The Lion King” is expected to once again dominate in North America. Jon Favreau’s photorealistic update raked in a massive $192 million during opening weekend, the best start among Disney’s remakes and the second-biggest domestic debut of the year. If “The Lion King” sees a hold similar to the other Disney re-imaginings such as “Beauty and the Beast” and “Aladdin,” the musical could collect between $87 million and $100 million during its second weekend. Only seven films have taken in more than $90 million in their second weekends.
“The Lion King” has already improved the overall 2019 North American box office, which reached $6.64 billion on July 24 and now trails last year’s take by 7.1%, according to Comscore. The summer box office has hit $3.12 billion, a 1.9% decline. Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst with Comscore, said “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” should show staying power in coming weeks.
“Though the lion will continue his reign as the king of the box office, a brilliantly epic, true original from the imagination of auteur Quentin Tarantino will bring enthusiastic film fans and movie buffs to the multi-plex this weekend and beyond,” he added.
Tarantino produced “Once Upon a Time” with David Heyman and Shannon McIntosh. Georgia Kacandes, YU Dong and Jeffrey Chan serve as executive producers.