Live-Action 'Lion King' Roars at the Box Office w/ $185M ... Despite Meh Critic Reviews

Walt Disney Pictures

The live-action 'Lion King' reboot was swimming in money this weekend here in America -- making it one of the best openings ever ... this in spite of critics kind of sh***in' on it.

Jon Favreau's latest re-imagining -- he also did the live-action version of "The Jungle Book" in 2016 -- hauled in a monster box office number in the North American market over the past few days, making an estimated $185 million ... and soaring past expectations.

The huge payday launched 'Lion King' into the 9th slot for highest-grossing opening ever (under "Avengers: Endgame," 'Infinity War,' 'The Force Awakens,' and other behemoths at the top) while also marking the largest July opening for a PG flick ever. In short, Disney made lots o' $$$$$$$$.

The funny thing is ... the movie is relatively so-so, according to critics anyway. It's got a 55% rating on Rotten Tomatoes and Megacritic -- which ain't good -- but folks still shelled out.

The biggest gripes about Disney's latest live-action revival is that the lions don't have any discernible facial expressions regardless of what's happening -- unlike the cartoon, which is very expressive throughout the roller coaster of events (RIP, Mufasa).

Not only that, but the biggest showstopping songs are a shell of themselves, and Beyonce barely gets any screen time -- yeah, we've seen it ... critics are sorta spot-on.

Nevertheless, it appears fond '90s memories drew moviegoers into theaters and took their cash. Nostalgia did it again.

'Little Mermaid' OG Prince Eric Hypes the Reboot ... And His Potential Replacement

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The man who voiced the prince in "The Little Mermaid" says the guy expected to land the role in the live-action remake is a perfect fit ... and the new Ariel's a home run.

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Christopher Daniel Barnes -- who voiced Prince Eric in the 1989 classic -- tells TMZ ... Harry Styles would be an excellent choice, because he actually checks all the boxes of a Disney prince in real life.

Styles is reportedly the front-runner for Eric, and Barnes says it's an added bonus he can sing ... now that some songs have actually been added for him.

Because, fun fact -- Barnes didn't get to sing any catchy tunes in 'Little Mermaid' ... and says he's the only Disney prince with that distinction.

As for the casting of Ariel -- which went to the up-and-coming 19-year-old actress and singer Halle Bailey -- Christopher says he was blown away by her talent and personality when he looked her up ... and anyone who has a problem with her is misguided ... to put it nicely.

Cameron Boyce Death Certificate Reveals He Was Cremated

Disney star Cameron Boyce's death certificate reveals the actor was cremated ... and his ashes were returned to his father.

Cameron's death certificate -- obtained by TMZ -- says he died at 2:35 PM on July 6. The official cause of death has been deferred until the coroner completes their investigation. Boyce was cremated and his ashes were given to his dad, Victor. 

The certificate says Cameron has worked in the entertainment industry for 12 years. Forest Lawn in Los Angeles is listed as the funeral establishment. 

As we reported ... Cameron suffered a fatal seizure last weekend and died in his sleep. Our sources say his roommate found him unresponsive, and when paramedics arrived they could not revive him. Cameron, who was just 20 years old, was pronounced dead at the scene. 

TMZ broke the story ... Cameron had been dealing with seizures, triggered by epilepsy, for a long time. His condition, however, didn't prevent him from acting in movies and TV ... and achieving great success in both.

After his death, Cameron's family said, "The world is now undoubtedly without one of its brightest lights, but his spirit will live on through the kindness and compassion of all who knew and loved him."

Beyonce Hugs it Out with Meghan Markle ... At UK 'Lion King' Premiere

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If Beyonce wasn't royalty before, she certainly is now -- she embraced Meghan Markle when, technically, commoners aren't supposed to touch ... unless a Royal does it first.

Bey and Jay-Z were in London Sunday for the UK premiere of the live-action 'Lion King,' and as they posed for pics on the red carpet ... none other than the Duke and Duchess of Sussex arrived hand-in hand, and then pulled up for a stop and chat with Bey and Jay.

Someone filmed Meg and Queen Bey going in for a hug -- which was polite and brief -- and talking it up afterward. Meghan also went in to hug Jay, who was standing by.

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No sign of Prince Harry in the video here, but we know he was there. Unclear if either of the power couples' kids were in attendance ... Archie gets a pass, but it'd be a tragedy if Blue Ivy wasn't in attendance. She kinda steals the spotlight anytime she's with her folks.

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Anyway, the reason why the hug between Meg and the Carters is such a big deal is because -- per high society, unspoken nobility rules -- anyone who isn't an official Royal (sorry, Beyhive) is NOT supposed to make contact with a Royal without being engaged first.

LeBron James got taken to task for doing exactly that back in 2014, when he innocently put his arm around Kate Middleton in a photo-op ... a major faux pas. 

Doesn't seem like Bey and Jay broke protocol though ... Meg is clearly the initiator here. Hell, they might even be closer than we think based on how comfy everyone looks. 

Cameron Boyce Charity Raises Thousands in Honor ...With Adam Sandler's Help

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Cameron Boyce's shocking death triggered a flood of donations to a charity about which he was passionate ... with some help from Adam Sandler.

The Disney star, who was just 20 years old when he died this last week, worked closely with a charity called Thirst Project, which builds wells bringing clean drinking water to villages in need. 

Thirst Project's co-founder and CEO, Seth Maxwell, tells TMZ ... more than 350 people have donated money to the initiative in Cameron's honor, totaling $15,000.

Maxwell says the money is pouring in from online donations through the charity's website, and a large chunk is coming from a Facebook fundraiser started by Adam Sandler. 

Other celebs are raising awareness and driving donations as well ... actors Skai Jackson and Nolan Gould, some of Cameron's industry friends, also went on social media encouraging fans to donate to Thirst Project in Cameron's name. 

Maxwell tells us Thirst Project has been overwhelmed by DMs and emails from people asking how they can get involved ... and he says there are lots of ways people can carry on Cameron's legacy.

Disney canceled a "Descendants 3" red carpet event to honor Cameron ... opting instead to donate money in his name to Thirst Project. Those funds are separate from the $15,000 in individual donations.

As we first reported ... Cameron, who died in his sleep from a seizure, suffered from epilepsy

Beyonce & Blue Ivy Lead the Pride at 'Lion King' Debut ... In Roaring Fashion

Beyonce and Blue Ivy were a spitting image of each other at the premiere of the new 'Lion King' movie -- and they couldn't have looked more like royalty if they tried.

Queen Bey and her cub rocked half suit jackets and half gowns on the red carpet Tuesday at the Dolby Theater in Hollywood, where the live-action Disney reboot was getting its West Coast debut. Mama bear lion was adorned in glittering chains that covered her upper half, while she led a flowing mesh train down low ... with BI wearing a similar outfit.

Beyonce's hairdo was something to behold as well -- it looks like she went with an intricate braided look, with her hair parted on the left side and slightly curled toward the front.

Blue Ivy had her locks up in pigtails, which were wrapped in what looked a lot like diamond hair ties. It's like they were reflecting Bey's character in the flick -- young and adult Nala.

A bunch of the cast was there too, including a dapper Donald Glover (Simba), Seth Rogen (Pumba), Billy Eichner (Timon) Keegan-Michael Key (Kamari) and other celebs who showed up just 'cause ... Tiffany Haddish, Chrissy Metz, Jimmy Kimmel and Chance the Rapper.

As for what folks are saying about the movie ... it's apparently really, REALLY good (graphics-wise, anyway). Critics are calling it a spectacular visual feat like nothing Disney's done. 

Yeah, ya gotta catch this one on the big screen. 

Michelle Obama Remembers Cameron Boyce ... 'Incredible Talent, Heart'

Michelle Obama shared a heartfelt tribute to late Disney star Cameron Boyce ... remembering him as a talented young man with an incredible heart.

The former First Lady shared a picture of her with Cameron on Twitter during one of his visits to the White House. She wrote, "I was lucky enough to hare a few moments with Cameron Boyce -- on set, at the White House, and on a service project -- enough time to recognize that not only did he have incredible talent, but also an incredible heart."

Michelle added, "Sending out a lot of love and hugs to his family, friends, and his many, many fans."

Even at a young age, Boyce was fueled by his philanthropic spirit. Back in March, he received the Pioneering Spirit Award at a gala for the Thirst Project ... which helps deliver clean water to communities around the world. He reportedly helped raise more than $30k for the org.

As we first reported ... Cameron, who died in his sleep, suffered from epilepsy. He was only 20 years old.

Disney Star Cameron Boyce Dead at 20

12:41 PM PT -- Law enforcement sources tell TMZ ... Cameron had a history of seizures.

Disney Channel star Cameron Boyce died in his sleep.

The 20-year-old actor, who starred in several Disney shows including "Descendants," could not be revived after paramedics rushed to his home ... this according to law enforcement sources.

Cameron's family said he had an ongoing medical condition and died in his sleep ... the result of a seizure.

Cameron starred in both the 'Descendants' TV series and movies. He was filming a new HBO show, "Mrs. Fletcher."

Although he was only 20, Cameron racked up a series of hits, appearing in "Grown Ups" and "Grown Ups 2" ... he played one of Adam Sandler's kids.

The actor was only 11 when he first appeared on the Disney Channel. Other credits include "Shake it Up," "Austin & Ally" and "Good Luck Charlie." His breakout role was playing Luke on "Jessie," which ran for 4 seasons.

The family said Saturday, “He passed away in his sleep due to a seizure which was a result of an ongoing medical condition for which he was being treated. The world is now undoubtedly without one of its brightest lights, but his spirit will live on through the kindness and compassion of all who knew and loved him,” 

The family spokesperson went on ... “We are utterly heartbroken and ask for privacy during this immensely difficult time as we grieve the loss of our precious son and brother.” 

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We last saw him in March, when we asked him about the college admissions scandal. 

Originally Published -- 7:01 AM PT

'Toy Story 2' Oops on Casting Couch Blooper!!! Disney Deletes Old Scene

Disney is changing with the times, and that requires deleting a casting couch-like scene from "Toy Story 2" that's eerily reminiscent to scores of allegations against Harvey Weinstein.

The scene in question is a produced "outtake" at the end of the 1999 film showing the character Stinky Pete the Prospector down on one knee chatting up 2 Barbie dolls. Pete tells 'em he can get them parts in "Toy Story 3" while ogling them from head to toe.

Fans who buy new Blu-ray and digital versions of the animated film will notice the scene's completely been scrapped -- a clear acknowledgment by Disney a lot has changed in 20 years.

Of course, the so-called casting couch practices in Hollywood were publicly exposed when a string of actors -- from Ashley Judd and Paz de la Huerta to Lupita Nyong'o -- all accused Weinstein of sexual misconduct.

Accusations against the movie mogul sparked the #MeToo movement ... and triggered a string of firings and resignations throughout show biz, including at Disney.

Pixar Animation cofounder and Disney animation chief John Lasseter left the company in June 2018 after he was accused of inappropriate touching and remarks. 

Katy Perry Goes Berserk in a Galaxy Far, Far Away ...

Katy Perry went into full geek mode at Disneyland ... just like the rest of the world visiting the park's newest attraction.

Katy and her fam hit up Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge Tuesday and there was no shortage of fandom explosions. She was there with her fiance, Orlando Bloom, who challenged her to a lightsaber duel ... though Katy wanted no part of it cause she was in the middle of Instagramming the scene.

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Check out the pics and vid ... you see Katy -- donning an orange jumpsuit and Mickey Mouse Nike hat -- doing a terrible job behind the Millennium Falcon. It's not us saying that. Her fam's the one busting her chops.

Pretty cool moment when they all made it to the famous watering hole, Oga's Cantina ... where they showed off their bubbly and foggy drinks. Bottoms up!!!

Ronnie Ortiz-Magro & Jen Harley Ain't a Damn Thing Changed ... Same Issues, Despite Vacay

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Ronnie Ortiz-Magro and Jen Harley are like a broken record, and a trip to Disney World's not going to fix it ... so say sources close to the volatile pair.

We broke the story ... the 'Jersey Shore' star and his baby mama looked more like they were going to prison than vacay early Wednesday morning as they boarded a flight from Las Vegas to Florida with their daughter. They didn't sit together or speak on the flight.

We're told the separate seating was due to booking last minute -- but seeing the moody duo together definitely raised eyebrows.

Our sources tell us looks do not deceive -- Ronnie and Jen are still far from being solid in their relationship and are "on and off" on a weekly basis. We're told family and friends close to them are very concerned and fear things will take another violent turn at any moment.

Yes, even at the "The Most Magical Place on Earth."

As we've reported ... Harley was arrested last month for a New Year's Eve incident in which she allegedly threw an ashtray at Ron's face and bloodied it, the same night he allegedly ransacked her home.

Ronnie was also recorded smashing the security camera at her front door in December 2018 ... and earlier that year he got a black eye during that crazy car dragging incident.

We're not saying this relationship is the definition of insanity, but family and friends say the evidence is piling up.

Ronnie Ortiz-Magro & Jen Harley Moodiest Couple Off to ... The Most Magical Place on Earth

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Ronnie Ortiz-Magro and Jen Harley look like future legal trouble walking -- even when they're heading for Disney World.

The on and off couple were not looking in the mood for travel, or anything else, as they boarded a flight from Las Vegas to Orlando. To be fair, they were flying Spirit at 2:45 AM ... so that could explain their faces. Other travelers tell us Jen seemed irritated and barked at Ronnie.

We'd chalk that up to the early hour, but then again ... these 2 have a serious history.

Once on board, we're told Ronnie sat 3 rows behind Jen and their 1-year-old daughter, Ariana Sky. They didn't speak AT ALL on the flight. We don't know if they intentionally sat apart, or if they weren't able to book next to each other -- it was a pretty full flight.

When they landed, we're told Jen yelled at Ron to grab their bags, which he did without any argument ... before they hopped into a black SUV.

A source close to the couple tells TMZ ... Ronnie is NOT filming anything there for "Jersey Shore." We're told the plan was for him and his family to celebrate Father's Day at Disney World.

The trip comes nearly a month after Jen was arrested for a New Year's Eve incident when she allegedly threw an ashtray at the reality star.

As we first reported ... Harley was arrested in Vegas on May 16 after she called cops to report someone with a gun. When cops arrived, she was the one hauled off after cops discovered she had an outstanding warrant.

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Surveillance video showed Ronnie walking out of a club on the night in question ... with what appeared to be a bloody face. The fight apparently didn't end there cause when Jen got home that night, she allegedly found her home ransacked. She accused Ronnie of breaking a flat-screen TV among other things.

Sooo ... good luck, Disney World!

OG Mouseketeer Dennis Day Badly Decomposed Body Found In Home Cops Previously Searched

Dennis Day -- an original Mouseketeer on "The Mickey Mouse Club" -- was found dead just over 2 months ago but his body was too decomposed for authorities to ID him ... until now.

Day's family confirmed Thursday it was his body cops found in his Phoenix, Oregon home back on April 4 ... which is highly suspicious and mysterious, because cops had previously searched the home and found nothing.

The 76-year-old went missing last July 15, and there was an extensive search, which included combing his home. Police say it's unclear how long the body had been there, or how the body was missed during previous searches. They're not saying if there were signs of foul play. They had not been able to identify the body back in April because the condition of the remains was severely degraded, which rendered DNA and dental records unusable.

Dennis was originally reported missing by his partner of more than 45 years, who lives at a care facility. He says he got worried after Dennis hadn't visited in weeks.

Authorities say Day's family didn't find out about his disappearance until 6 months later when they saw a report on the local news. Adding to the mystery ... his car was found about 200 miles away along the Oregon coast with 2 strangers in the car claiming he'd let them borrow the car.

State police impounded the vehicle and continued investigating for a cause of death.

Dennis was a 12-year-old actor when he first signed on as a Mouseketeer in 1955.

As an original member of the Mouseketeers, he reportedly modeled prospective costumes for Walt Disney and appeared in publicity photos for the TV show. He last appeared on the show in 1957. He tried his hand at theater in NY and was later a drama teacher in California.

Dennis was 76.

'Star Wars' Disneyland's Galaxy's Edge Launches with Hamill, Ford, Williams & Lucas!!!

Disneyland is bringing the galaxy far, far away closer than ever ... and Luke Skywalker, Lando Calrissian and Han Solo simply couldn't miss it.

The famed California theme park is launching a new Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge attraction, and 3 of the biggest stars from the franchise -- Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford and Billy Dee Williams -- joined creator George Lucas to cut the ribbon on the hyped up fantasy world.

The 4 'Star Wars' legends took the stage together Wednesday to welcome the first guests to the planet Batuu ... with the Millennium Falcon as a fitting backdrop.

Disney CEO Bob Iger introduced Lucas first to speak to the crowd about Galaxy's Edge ... which he referred to as "Star Tours on steroids." Star Tours was the first 'Star Wars'-themed ride at the park -- it opened a long time ago ... in 1986.

Williams and Hamill spoke after that, with Mark saying this was the first time he's been to a grand opening event since Star Tours.

Then it was time to fire up the Falcon, but there were technical difficulties ... which was Ford's cue to enter. Harrison gave the space ship a couple hard whacks to get it going ... and gave a shout-out to the late Chewbacca actor, Peter Mayhew.

Phase One of Galaxy's Edge opens Friday -- which includes the Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run ride and all the shops and restaurants. Another major ride, Rise of the Resistance, will open later in 2019 as part of Phase Two.

Disney World in Florida will launch its own Galaxy's Edge on August 29.

Kim Kardashian & North West Let's Go Party ... At Disneyland!!!

Kim Kardashian and North West are getting their party on before Memorial Day Weekend ... hitting up Disneyland for a best friend's birthday bash!!!

Kim and her oldest daughter spent their Wednesday at the Happiest Place on Earth ... cutting loose on some rides, hanging out with Mickey Mouse and grubbing down on some Mexican food.

KK's pushing a stroller ... but newborn baby boy Psalm West isn't the one getting an assist from mama. Guess the latest addition to Kim and Kanye West's growing brood isn't quite ready for his first trip to the Magic Kingdom.

Hey, Psalm wouldn't be able to go on the fun rides anyways. Sorry little buddy, Kim and North are having all the fun this time.

'Even Stevens' Actor A.J. Trauth Wife Files For Divorce

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5/9 8:50 AM PT -- According to the divorce docs, obtained by TMZ, Leah says they separated on April 17, 2019. She's asking the court to award neither her or A.J. spousal support.

A.J. Trauth -- who rose to fame playing Alan Twitty on "Even Stevens" -- is getting divorced from his actress wife after nearly 5 years of marriage.

A.J.'s wife, Leah Marie Trauth, filed divorce docs Wednesday ... but the reason behind the split remains unclear.

The former couple tied the knot back in December 2014 in a ceremony in Santa Barbara. They did not have any kids together.

A.J. and Leah first met when they were teenagers, and their relationship turned romantic in 2011 ... about two and a half years later, A.J. got down on one knee to propose and they got engaged on Christmas Day in 2013.

On "Even Stevens" A.J.'s character was best friends with Louis Stevens, played by Shia LaBeouf. He appeared in 57 episodes across 3 seasons.

Leah is also a Disney alum ... and she was in the 2004 Disney movie "Pixel Perfect." Leah also starred in the slasher film "Sorority Row" as well as the CW's "The Originals."

Originally Published -- 5/8 5:28 PM PT