Aladdin earned an estimated $86 million over the Fri-Sun portion of its projected $105 million debut weekend. That’s no record, but it’s higher than the over/under $90 million pre-release tracking. It’s also a better debut than last year’s Disney’s Solo: A Star Wars Story. That Han Solo prequel earned $84 million Fri-Sun and $103 million over its Fri-Mon debut weekend. The problem was that reshoots and a director swap sent that film’s budget soaring to around $275 million. While $183 million for Aladdin isn’t cheap, it’s cheaper than $275 million and there’s little reason not to presume that Aladdin will perform a lot better overseas than the mostly ignored Star Wars Story.
Presuming Disney isn't under-estimating the Sunday/Monday numbers, it will have earned a 3.38x four-day weekend multiplier, just below Alice Through the Looking Glass (3.45x in 2016) and above almost every recent “opened on a Friday” Memorial Day weekend release save for Alice 2 and Men In Black 3 ($69 million from a $17.6 million Friday) back in 2012. The film received mixed reviews but strong audience polling results. Warts and all, the film delivers on its promises of a big-scale live-action redo of Aladdin and mostly works as a blustery and colorful live-action musical with a fine cast and strong production values. The script’s a mess, but it works as surface level entertainment no matter your feelings about its source material.
Yes, there is a lot of family-friendly entertainment (Secret Life of Pets 2, Toy Story 4, Men in Black International) and at least one potentially huge musical (Rocketman) on tap over the next few weeks. However, let's presume that the Mena Massoud/Naomi Scott/Will Smith/Marwan Kenzari/Nasim Perdrad musical romance plays like a normal Memorial Day biggie. For reference, the outliers in both directions are X-Men: The Last Stand ($234 million from a $122 million Fri-Mon debut in 2006) and Men In Black 3 ($179 million from a $69 million debut in 2012). An “average” 2.11x multiplier (Days of Future Past with a $233 million cume from a $110 million debut in 2014) gives Aladdin a $222 million cume.
An upper-level multiplier (Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales and Alice Through the Looking Glass) gives it a 2.29x multiplier and an over/under $241 million domestic cume while a lower level multiplier of around 1.97x (Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End and X-Men: Apocalypse) still gives it a $207 million domestic finish. Yes, Memorial Day releases tend to be relatively front-loaded in terms of earning much of their money in the first four days (or five days, depending on when it opens) of domestic release. That’s why it’s a big deal for Walt Disney that the much-discussed Guy Ritchie flick over performed this weekend.
With a $121 million overseas debut, that gives the flick a $207 million global opening, not yet counting whatever it will earn in North America and overseas on Monday. That's a 41/59 domestic/overseas split, and that's with a “meh” $18.7 million debut weekend in China. Not every big movie can count on hitting pay dirt in China, but Aladdin is doing well enough here and in the rest of the world that it won't need a bail out from the biggest overseas market in the world, albeit on that usually only gives the studio 25% of a given ticket sale.
Disney may have another live-action biggie that isn’t a superhero movie, and it does somewhat break their curse of doomed Memorial Day weekend releases (Prince of Persia, Tomorrowland, Alice Through the Looking Glass and Solo). While it may not end up earning that much more in North America than Solo: A Star Wars Story ($213.5 million), it’s probably going to do better overseas. Alice 2 earned 75% of its money overseas, Dumbo recently earned 67% of its (mediocre) $347 million global cume overseas. A 40/60 split (like Beauty and the Beast) from a $220 million domestic cume (same legs as Solo) gets it to $580 million.
That’s no Sultan’s ransom, but it’s 3.21x the $183 million production budget. That’s presuming it doesn’t really leg out and/or over perform overseas. Will Smith will help in that department, as he helped get Suicide Squad to $745 million without China in 2016, while both Men in Black 3 in 2012and Hancock in 2008 overcame bad pre-release buzz to earn $624 million global. Being stupidly optimistic, a $259 million domestic total and a 35/65 split (right between The Jungle Book’s 37% domestic portion of its $966 million global cume and Alice in Wonderland’s 33% domestic portion of its $1.025 billion worldwide gross) gets this one to $740 million worldwide.
Yes, Aladdin could crash and burn after opening weekend, or perhaps just not be that big of a deal overseas even with Will Smith as the Genie. But now that the film has opened and is playing to big crowds of mostly satisfied customers, the hard part is over. For what it’s worth, the film is yet more evidence that onscreen inclusivity either helps with big movies that folks were going to see anyway or is not remotely any kind of deterrent. I can’t say yet whether more folks showed up to Aladdin due to the ethnic makeup of its cast, but it sure as hell didn’t scare anyone away.