HOLLYWOOD, Aug. 10 -- 'The Lion King' has passed 'Beverly Hills Cop' as the ninth-highest grossing film of all time with domestic ticket sales of $234.9 million after 56 days. Disney's animated cartoon will probably take in as much as $100 million more by the end of its run with its core audience of children now seeing the film for the second and third time. Its total to date is particularly impressive since a significant number of tickets have been sold at half-price. 'The Lion King' grossed $7.1 million at 2,355 theaters last weekend, good enough for seventh place at the national box office, then added $2.5 million on Monday and Tuesday. The public awareness of the movie is at exceptionally high levels and sales of merchandise tied to 'The Lion King' could hit as much as $1 billion worldwide, analyst have predicted. More than 1,000 licensed items have gone on sale as retailers began stocking 'Lion King' items prior to the film's mid-June opening. Disney also launched a huge tie-in promotion with the McDonald's chain, with precision and has the marketing muscle of more than 260 Disney Store outlets, located mostly in major shopping malls. It began running trailers for 'The Lion King' during the Christmas season and included a long preview of the film as part of its home-video version of 'Aladdin,' which rang up record-setting sales of 22 million copies during the past holiday season. 'The Lion King,' featuring the voices of James Earl Jones, Jeremy Irons and Whoopi Goldberg and the music of Elton John, involves a lion named Simba being forced into exile after the death of his father, the king of the lions.
The seriousness of the subject matter does not appear to be holding down ticket sales to younger children. Disney has a stunning track record in recent years in animation, starting with 'Who Framed Roger Rabbit' in 1988 and in 1989 with 'The Little Mermaid.' Those films performed above expectations and set the stage for 'Beauty and the Beast,' which topped $140 million, and 'Aladdin,' which hit nearly $220 million. Also due to hit the top 10 all time this summer is Paramount's 'Forrest Gump,' which has close to $170 million in five weeks and could add another $100 million to that. The 10 top-grossing domestic movies, year of release, total gross: 1. 'E.T. -- The Extraterrestrial,' 1982, $399.8 million. 2. 'Jurassic Park,' 1993, $346.2 million. 3. 'Star Wars,' 1977, $322 million. 4. 'Home Alone,' 1990, $281.6 million. 5. 'Return of the Jedi,' 1983, $263 million. 6. 'Jaws,' 1975, $260 million. 7. 'Batman,' 1989, $251.2 million. 8. 'Raiders of the Lost Ark,' 1981, $242.4 million. 9. 'The Lion King,' 1994, $234.9 million. 10. 'Beverly Hills Cop,' 1984, $234.8 million.