Disney’s (NYSE:DIS) 3D version of The Lion King hits domestic box offices this weekend in advance of its Diamond Blu-Ray release on October 4. The digitally altered version of the 1994 film is expected to trounce the competition, having built a massive fan base in its 17 years. The film, playing in both 2D and 3D at 2,330 locations, is expected to gross $11-13 million this weekend.
Lion King‘s biggest competition will be holdover Contagion, which opened last weekend to $22.4 million, and Ryan Gosling’s action-drama Drive, in which the Blue Valentine star plays a Hollywood stunt driver who moonlights as a getaway driver/transporter. The film had a strong showing at both the Toronto Film Festival and Cannes, and of this weekend’s three new releases, not counting the re-release of Lion King, seems likely to be the top earner. Directed by Nicholas Winding Refn and distributed by FilmDistrict, Drive is expected to gross $9-10 million as it opens in 2,886 theaters nationwide.
Drive won’t be the only R-rated thriller opening this weekend, as it’s joined by a remake of the 1971 film Straw Dogs, starring Alexander Skarsgard, James Marsden, and Kate Bosworth. The Screen Gems (NYSE:SNE) film, made for $20 million and opening in 2,408 theaters, is expected to take in $7-8 million this weekend. Straw Dogs, which follows an L.A. screenwriter and his wife who relocate to the deep South and meet some not-so-nice locals, is tracking best with younger, urban audiences.
This weekend’s third new release its Weinstein Co.’s Sarah Jessica Parker comedy I Don’t Know How She Does It, which opens in 2,476 theaters today. The film is expected to take in $6-8 million this weekend, but is expected to have good multiples, helped on by SJP’s co-stars, Pierce Brosnan, Greg Kinnear, and Seth Meyers of SNL fame.