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Quentin Tarantino and ‘The Lion King’: The Future of Movies Is in Their Hands

The last two weeks of July are usually a time to open multiple blockbusters. The midpoint of summer offers plenty of time to capture kids on vacation, but the window is starting to close. Recent examples include “Mission: Impossible – Fallout,” “Jason Bourne,” “Dunkirk,” and “Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again.”

Not this year. There are exactly two wide releases through the end of the month, school schedules be damned: Jon Favreau’s “The Lion King” this weekend, followed by Quentin Tarantino’s “Once Upon a Time In Hollywood.”

Clearly, the market perceives these titles as too big to compete. However, each also carries its own enormous burden.

Film box office is in a slump. It is down $250 million from last year, or about 7%. For the year to date, the drop is 9%, or $610 million. If both of these films perform at the high end of projections, we could end July with a $200 million cut in each of those deficits. That would be impressive. Even so, these films only have the capacity to reduce the bleeding. Grosses from August-November 2018 were among the best months of the year, which makes exceeding them in 2019 unlikely.

Both “The Lion King” and “Once Upon a Time in America” fit into existing brands. One is a revamp of a Disney animated classic (the

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