The Lion King debuts HUGE

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"Money won is twice as sweet as money earned."



I'm kinda surprised since the reviews really weren't stellar



I'm kinda surprised since the reviews really weren't stellar
Reviews and box office are uncorrelated: lots of movies make lots of money and critics hate then (such as the Transformer movies), inversely lots of movies are critically acclaimed but they are not popular among the general public and make losses (There Will be Blood, The Tree of Life).

The original Lion King made 1.8 billion dollars globally in today's money, I guess this remake will make about the same.



Reviews and box office are uncorrelated
I would say you are mostly correct here, but it can play a role. Aladdin reviews (both critic and public) were a bit better than I think people expected, which is why I think it has had a bit more staying power at the box office. I'd contend that the reverse is true for the most recent Men in Black movie that probably should have made more money, but the reviews were rather putrid.