The Lion King, a 3D conversion of a 1994 Disney animated film that has been available on DVD and on video, cable, and broadcast television before that has stunned box-office predictors by out-grossing Brad Pitt’s very high profile baseball movie in its second week back in theaters. It is tough for a family movie to beat a PG-13 because children’s tickets cost less and they don’t sell many seats to late-night and weekday showings. “Lion King” makes up the difference with the premium for 3D glasses, but still, even “Moneyball’s” Billy Beane could not have come up with a computer formula to predict that a 17-year-old film could make “Moneyball,” like the Oakland A’s, an underdog.
I have my own theory about this. I don’t think it’s because of the 3D conversion. In the old days before videos, Disney re-released its classic animated films every seven years or so because they knew there was a new generation of children who had not seen them. The children of today may have seen “The Lion King” dozens of times on DVD but they have not seen in on a big screen with no distractions. And they have not seen it as an event, a family outing with everyone sitting in the dark enjoying it at the same time. That’s a dimension that goes way beyond anything you can do with fancy glasses.
1. The Lion King 3D — $22.1 million
2. Moneyball — $20.6 million
3. Dolphin Tale — $20.3 million
4. Abduction — $11.2 million
5. Killer Elite — $9.5 million