‘Aladdin’ Gives Disney Another Live-Action Hit
This time last year, Disney was picking up the pieces after a notoriously disappointing opening for “Solo: A Star Wars Story.” The studio had better luck this year — with a genie’s help.
Disney’s live-action “Aladdin,” with Will Smith as the blue genie, brought in around $86.1 million domestically from Friday through Sunday, according to the studio. Disney says it expects the North American total for the long Memorial Day weekend, Friday through Monday, to reach $105 million, exceeding analysts’ expectations.
That is a strong showing for a movie that cost a reported $183 million to make, particularly given the additional $121 million the studio says the movie made overseas through Sunday.
“Aladdin” is the latest in Disney’s series of live-action remakes of its animated classics. The previous entry, Tim Burton’s “Dumbo,” earned $45 million in North America in its opening weekend in March.
Other than Smith, the new “Aladdin” doesn’t come with much star power: Mena Massoud, a Canadian actor whose most prominent role had been as a recurring character in the Amazon series “Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan,” plays Aladdin opposite the British actress Naomi Scott as Princess Jasmine. Nasim Pedrad, once of “Saturday Night Live,” plays Jasmine’s handmaiden.
The movie’s success also comes despite middling reviews. It currently holds a 58 percent fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
Like its animated predecessor, this “Aladdin,” directed by Guy Ritchie, tells the story of a young street thief who finds his happily-ever-after with a princess, thanks largely to a genie who can grant him three wishes.
Speaking of three wishes coming true: Disney can now say that it is behind the top three highest-grossing openings so far in 2019. Only the Disney-Marvel movies “Captain Marvel” (opening weekend: $153.4 million) and “Avengers: Endgame” ($357.1 million) had better openings than “Aladdin.”
And “Avengers: Endgame” is still making money. That superhero movie came in third this weekend with around $16.8 million in domestic ticket sales from Friday to Sunday, according to Comscore, which compiles box-office data. Second place went to Lionsgate’s “John Wick: Chapter 3,” which sold $24.4 million in tickets over the three-day period.
The only other newcomer in the top five was Sony’s “Brightburn,” a superhero origin story that mixes in elements of horror. Both genres have produced notable box-office successes in recent years, and “Brightburn” brought in around $7.5 million through Sunday; the movie’s reported budget was $6 million.