Before everybody had the Internet in their pockets at all times, people only saw trailers at movie theaters, and occasionally on TV. There was no way to measure which trailers got the most views. And to be honest, nobody really cared. But that’s not the case anymore. Today, when the trailer drops for a highly anticipated film, it’s a big deal. Studios spend a ton of money just to promote trailers, and fans look forward to their release almost as much as the actual movies. Of course, when it comes to hyping trailers, nobody does it better than Disney. So what’s the most watched Disney movie trailer of all time? Is it Frozen 2? Toy Story 4? Maybe Ralph Breaks the Internet? Nope. Ralph Breaks the Internet certainly would have been fitting. But—drumroll—the most watched Disney movie trailer of all time is…
That’s right, it’s the first teaser trailer for the 2019 “live action” remake of The Lion King. Released on November 22, 2018, smack dab in the middle of the Thanksgiving Day football games, this trailer racked up a whopping 224.6 million views in its first 24 hours. That makes it the most-watched Disney trailer of all-time, ahead of the live action Mulan (175.1 million), the live action Beauty and the Beast (127.6 million), Frozen 2 (116.4 million), and Incredibles 2 (113.6 million).
When you think about it, it should not come as much of a surprise that the first Lion King teaser was so popular. The original 1994 animated Lion King is one of the most beloved Disney films. According to Box Office Mojo, it raked in $312.8 million at the domestic box office and another $450.6 million internationally, for a grand total of $763.4 million. And that was in 1994. When you adjust those numbers for inflation the total comes to $1.3 billion. Then there was another $520 million in VHS sales, $220 million in DVD sales, and $110 million in Blu-ray sales.
So yeah, people love the original Lion King. And the first teaser for the 2019 remake was brilliantly edited to give fans all the feels. It starts with stunning wide-angle shots of the savanna. Then it gives you a voiceover from the legendary James Earl Jones at the 14-second mark, before hitting you with the iconic chanting part of “Circle of Life” at the 40-second mark.
Honestly, even two years later, it still gives you the chills.
Directed by Jon Favreau (Iron Man, The Jungle Book), the 2019 version of The Lion King starred Donald Glover as Simba and Beyoncé as Nala, with James Earl Jones reprising his role as Mufasa. With a 53-percent "Fresh" on Rotten Tomatoes and 6.9 on IMDB, most people seem to agree that the film is OK, but not nearly as good as the original. That said, the trailer was so good that the film still made $543.6 million at the domestic box office and $1.6 billion globally, surpassing the adjusted box office totals of the original by a hair.