“Aladdin,” Disney’s live-action reboot of its 1992 animated hit, made $7 million on its opening night Thursday.
The film, which stars Will Smith as the magical blue Genie, is expected to make $75 million to $85 million at the North American box office over the four-day weekend, according to Disney (DIS).
That total should easily put the film in the top spot at the Memorial Day box office – a holiday weekend that used to be one of the biggest on Hollywood’s calendar, but has lost some of its luster in recent years.
“Memorial Day weekend has gone from being the single most important weekend of the summer to a weekend that has diminished in its power and importance to the overall bottom line,” said Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst at Comscore (SCOR).
Memorial Day weekend has hosted big blockbusters in the past such as 1977’s “Star Wars,” 1984’s “Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom,” 1997’s “The Lost World: Jurassic Park” and 2007’s “Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End.”
Memorial Day weekend used to be the “official start of the industry’s most important season,” but that’s changed with studios now releasing blockbusters year-round rather than just in the summer, according to Dergarabedian.
“Look at ‘Avengers: Endgame,’ that opened in April, ‘Black Panther’ was last February and ‘Star Wars’ is now usually in December,” Dergarabedian said. “A slow Memorial weekend is no longer a harbinger of a terrible summer. It’s just another long weekend on the calendar.”
Shawn Robbins, chief analyst at BoxOffice.com, believes that “Aladdin” has star power and nostalgia in its favor, which has been “a potent combo that’s worked well for the industry of late.”
However, Robbins pointed out that even though there’s not a lot of competition at the cineplex this weekend, the new “Aladdin” might end up competing with the old version of itself.
“A major deciding factor will be how many families and parents that grew up with the animated film are sold on this new take,” he said. “Disney is competing with itself in many regards.”
“Aladdin,” which has a 60% score on review site Rotten Tomatoes, is the latest film Disney has adapted from one of its animated classics. Live action reboots of “Beauty and the Beast” and “The Jungle Book” have been successful for the company.
“Dumbo,” Disney’s latest live action remake, underwhelmed at the box office for its opening in March. It was expected to bring in $50 million, but came in under projections with a $45 million weekend.
But Disney’s biggest adaptation may be yet to come.
The company is set to release a remake of “The Lion King,” which includes voice work by Donald Glover and Beyoncé, on July 19.
Some industry analysts believe it could be one of the highest-grossing films of the year.