Disney’s three Broadway blockbusters, including its latest entry Aladdin, took in more than $4 million at the box office last week, which proved to be a slow one for much of the competition. Aladdin, at the company’s flagship Broadway hangout the New Amsterdam Theatre on West 42nd Street, rang up $1,194,265 in sales, according to figures released this afternoon by the Broadway League, the industry trade group. Newsies, at the Nederlander Theatre, sold $812,665 in tickets. The Lion King, at the Minskoff Theatre, continued to roar as the top-grossing show in the District, selling $2,143,746 in tickets. All three shows were at or over 100% of audience capacity for the week ending Sunday.
While Julie Taymor’s stature on Broadway has diminished after Spider-Man Turn Off The Dark, this will make her feel better. Disney’s The Lion King has just roared past The Phantom of the Opera to become Broadway’s all-time top grossing show. The Lion King, which opened November 1997, has done a cumulative gross of $853,846,062 over 753 weeks, while The Phantom of the Opera, which opened January, 1988, and has a cumulative gross of $853,122,062 over 1264 weeks. During the run of The Lion King, 514 shows have come and gone on Broadway and The Lion King usually finishes first or second on the revenue charts ever week, remarkable for a show well past its 14th year. Only five shows have run longer on Broadway: A Chorus Line, Cats, Les Miserables, Phantom of the Opera and Chicago, and all of them were way down from being the top grossing weekly show at this point in their runs. I can remember how involved Disney was in the clean-up of 42nd Street and the campaign to transform that seedy area. With both The Lion King and Mary Poppins packing them in, it has worked out pretty well for everyone but the hookers, pimps, pervs and the drug crowd that had to find other places to peddle their wares.
Disney has seen the 3D light following the success of its re-release of The Lion King in the extra dimension, announcing today limited theatrical releases for four more of its animated films: Beauty and the Beast (January 13, 2012), Pixar’s Finding Nemo (September 14, 2012) and Monsters, Inc. (January 18, 2013), and The Little Mermaid (September 13, 2013). The Lion King 3D is about to cross $80 million in domestic box office since it was re-released September 16; it finished third this past weekend domestically, where it is playing in 2,340 theaters. The Monsters Inc. date, meanwhile, comes five months before Disney releases that film’s prequel, Monsters University, on June 21, 2013.
Disney will release a 3D version of its classic 1994 animated blockbuster The Lion King on Sept. 16, 2011, the studio announced today. It follows the trend of high-profile library fare getting extra-dimensional face-lifts (the studio upgraded its first two Toy Story films ahead of Toy Story 3), the latest being Fox’s recent announcement that it will present Titanic in 3D on April 6, 2012.
Disney also said today that its 3D John Carter Of Mars has a new title: John Carter. The release date for the sci-fi actioner starring Taylor Kitsch remains March 9, 2012.
There’s still not a lot of 3D programming on cable or broadcast to satisfy those first buyers of 3D televisions. But IHS Screen Digest says today that the technology is about to find a real foothold among fans of Blu-ray discs. Some 3.2 million homes this year will have the equipment needed to watch Blu-ray discs in 3D. That a 305% increase over last year. The 3D discs can be played on Sony’s PlayStation 3 consoles as well as 3D-enabled Blu-ray players. Hollywood, of course, sees a cash opportunity. Studios will release about 65 titles on 3D Blu-ray this year, IHS says. That total will include 15 from Disney such as Tron, Beauty And The Beast, and The Lion King. As a result, the research firm predicts that US consumers will spend $160.8 million this year on discs that provide 3D images to 3D-enabled TV sets. IHS figures that consumers will buy 5.7 million 3D discs at an average of $28.33 a pop. That contrasts with $28.4 million last year based on 900,000 discs selling for $31.09 apiece. The big reason for the increase is that 3D is catching on with early adopters. IHS adds that 3D discs are catching on in the UK, Germany, and France.