Preview: Live action 'Lion King' leads pack for 2019

Other biggies include new films from Martin Scorsese, Jordan Peele, Greta Gerwig and more

Adam Graham
Detroit News Film Critic

The biggest movie of all-time is coming in 2019. 

It's just a prediction, but let's have a little fun. Disney's live-action remake of "The Lion King" will become the top money earner not only of the year, but will be the first film to cross the $1 billion benchmark at the North American box office, making it, yes, the highest grossing film (cue echo effect) everrrrr

A scene from "The Lion King."

That's how it looks from here at least, as "The Lion King" leads a year packed with sequels and superhero fare, but looks to be the King of the Jungle. 

To get to the No. 1 spot it will have to outpace a whole lot of other Disney fare; the Mouse House also has live-action remakes of "Dumbo" and "Aladdin" on deck, in addition to a handful of high-powered sequels ("Frozen 2," the fourth "Avengers" movie, etc.). 

But "The Lion King" has a leg up: Director Jon Favreau, who scored big with 2016's live-action remake of "The Jungle Book," is taking on one of the most beloved properties in the Disney library, which was a monster hit in its own right (the original "Lion King" earned $312 million in 1994 dollars, which is roughly $682 million in today's figures). And that version didn't have the power of Beyoncè behind it.

We'll have to wait and see how high up the mountain "The Lion King," which opens July 19, can climb. In the meantime, here are 20 other movies to look forward to in 2019:

Note: Dates are subject to change.  

"Glass": M. Night Shyamalan's sequel to "Unbreakable" and "Split" brings together Samuel L. Jackson, Bruce Willis and James McAvoy in their roles from the two respective films. Only in Shyamalan's universe can any of this make sense. (Jan. 18) 

Samuel L. Jackson, James McAvoy and Bruce Willis in "Glass."

"The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part": More meta gags in building block form? Everything is awesome. (Feb. 8) 

"Captain Marvel": Oscar winner Brie Larson ("Room") dons a superhero suit in this story that was set up at the end of "Avengers: Infinity Wars" and will bridge the gap to "Avengers: Endgame." (March 8) 

"Us": "Get Out" writer and director Jordan Peele returns with another social provocation, starring Elisabeth Moss and Lupita Nyong'o. (March 15) 

"The Beach Bum": Matthew McConaughey, Snoop Dogg, Jonah Hill, Martin Lawrence and Zac Efron are among the stars of the latest from "Spring Breakers" writer and director Harmony Korine, which centers on a stoner named Moondog (McConaughey). Take our money now. (March 22) 

"Dumbo": A flying baby elephant doesn't even rank in the top half of Tim Burton's weirdest characters. Colin Farrell, Michael Keaton and more star in the demented director's live-action remake of the 1941 animated tale. (March 29) 

"Avengers: Endgame": We'll see how many of Thanos' victims stay dead when the second half of "Avengers: Infinity Wars" unfurls. (April 26) 

"Aladdin": Will Smith is the genie out of the bottle in this live-action remake of Disney's 1992 animated classic. (May 24) 

"Rocketman": Taron Egerton stars as Elton John in this biopic of the flamboyant superstar. Dexter Fletcher, who took over "Bohemian Rhapsody" when Bryan Singer dropped out, directs. (May 31) 

"Toy Story 4": Woody and Buzz are back in the first "Toy Story" adventure since 2010. Fun fact: Fans born the year the first "Toy Story" was released are now old enough to bring their children to this one. (June 21) 

A scene from Toy Story 4.

"Spider-Man: Far From Home": Just when we're getting used to the animated Spidey, Tom Holland returns in the follow-up to 2017's "Spider-Man: Homecoming." (July 5) 

"Once Upon a Time in Hollywood": Brad Pitt, Leonardo DiCaprio, Margot Robbie, Kurt Russell and Al Pacino are among the stars lined up for Quentin Tarantino's story of Los Angeles in 1969, where the romance of Summer of Love met the Summer of Charles Manson. (July 26) 

Brad Pitt and Leonardo DiCaprio in "Once Upon a Time in Hollywood."

"It: Chapter Two": Back to the sewer. The sequel to last year's horror blockbuster catches up with the Loser's Club 27 years later. Grown-ups James McAvoy, Jessica Chastain and Bill Hader star. (Sept. 6) 

"Joker": Joaquin Phoenix dons the facepaint in this story of Batman's greatest foe, from "Hangover" director Todd Phillips. (Oct. 4) 

Joaquin Phoenix in "Joker."

"Gemini Man": Everyone worries they're going to be replaced by someone younger. But what if that person was yourself? Will Smith stars in director Ang Lee's story of a hitman who squares off with his clone. (Oct. 4) 

"You Are My Friend": Tom Hanks is Fred Rogers in "Can You Ever Forgive Me?" director Marielle Heller's biopic of the "Mister Rogers' Neighborhood" star. (Oct. 18) 

"Frozen 2": Do you want to build another snowman? Queen Elsa returns in the sequel to the animated smash, which grossed a stunning $400 million in 2013. (Nov. 22)  

"Star Wars: Episode IX": At this point, the release date is about all that's known about the third chapter of the third "Star Wars" trilogy. J.J. Abrams directs. (Dec. 20) 

"Little Women": "Lady Bird" writer-director Greta Gerwig takes on Louisa May Alcott's classic novel with a cast that includes Saoirse Ronan, Meryl Streep, Emma Watson, Florence Pugh, Laura Dern and Timothée Chalamet. (Dec. 25) 

"The Irishman": Martin Scorsese directs Robert De Niro, Al Pacino, Anna Paquin, Joe Pesci and Harvey Keitel in the story of a mob hitman's possible involvement with the murder of Jimmy Hoffa in this Netflix original, which is due on the service and likely in theaters by year's end. (2019 TBD)