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‘The Lion King’ Jumping to $185 Million North American Debut

Disney’s “The Lion King” is heading for a dominant $185 million opening weekend in North America, early estimates showed Friday.

Should that number hold, “The Lion King” will record the second-best opening of 2019 — and give the sagging domestic box office a badly needed boost. “The Lion King” would replace “Incredibles 2,” which launched last year with $182.7 million, as the ninth biggest North American launch of all time.

The film appears to be outperforming pre-sale forecasts, which had been in the $150 million to $180 million range in a record 4,725 domestic locations. The tentpole took in $23 million in Thursday night previews — the biggest preview number since Disney-Marvel’s “Avengers: Endgame” set the record on April 25 with $60 million and went on to gross an astounding $357 million on its opening weekend.

“The Lion King,” directed by Jon Favreau, is a photo-realistic remake of Disney’s classic 1994 animated hit. The story is centered on a young lion named Simba assuming his role as the king of the Pride Lands animal kingdom after his father, Mufasa, is murdered. Reviewers have been split over “The Lion King” with a 56% Rotten Tomatoes rating, but the mixed notices appear to be having little impact among moviegoers.

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