Jungle Cruise proves a box office hit, earning over $30 million in its opening weekend despite lower attendance and concerns over Delta variant cases.
Disney’s Jungle Cruise has sailed past its opening weekend projections, earning $34 million at the domestic box office. The film, inspired by the iconic Disneyland ride, was due for release in 2019 but was pushed back to 2020 before being further delayed by the pandemic. It follows Emily Blunt’s Dr. Lily Houghton and her brother Macgregor (Jack Whitehall) as they hire Dwayne Johnson’s steamboat captain Frank Wolff to sail them upriver in search of the magical tree of life. While critical reception to Jungle Cruise has been mixed, audience reviews have been overwhelmingly positive, with it currently standing at 93% with audiences on Rotten Tomatoes.
After earning $2.7 million from Thursday night previews Jungle Cruise opened on Friday night and had been estimated to make somewhere between $20 and $30 million. While this may seem like a far smaller estimate than one might expect from a big-budget Disney release, this comes amid a box-office struggling to recover from the pandemic, as well as concerns over the rising COVID cases involving the Delta variant. Jungle Cruise’s release also comes as a hybrid release, with the film also readily available on Disney+ via Premier Access.
In a statement from Disney, the company announced that Jungle Cruise had earned $61.8 million at the global box-office, with $34.2 million accounted for by domestic sales. That leaves $27.6 million in revenue from the overseas box-office, although it’s worth noting though, that the film is going up against James Gunn’s The Suicide Squad which also released overseas on Friday in a number of territories. Overall, Jungle Cruise has earned $91.8 million globally when including an additional $30 million garnered from the Premier Access fee of $30 per household on Disney+. In their official statement on the box-office success of the film, Disney added:
“Jungle Cruise is the perfect summer adventure film, bringing a beloved theme park attraction to both the big screen and living rooms in a way that only Disney can. We remain focused on offering consumer choice during these unprecedented times, and it is clear that fans and families value the ability to make decisions on how they prefer to enjoy Disney’s best-in-class storytelling.”
Considering that levels of cinema attendance are still significantly lower than they were pre-pandemic, Jungle Cruise’s numbers are a good sign and the streaming release seems to have aided it significantly. Moreover, Disney seem incredibly pleased with the success of the film. It’s unclear, however, whether the hybrid release will continue to affect Jungle Cruise’s performance. While Marvel’s Black Widow started strong at the box office, its figures nose-dived by 67% by the time the second weekend rolled around. In part, this was blamed on the film’s ready availability on Disney’ streaming platform and a rise in film piracy. Many pundits have warned that this was a worrying sign that could have damaging effects on movie theaters, with hybrid releases encouraging movie-goers to remain at home.
On Thursday, Scarlett Johansson filed a lawsuit in Los Angeles superior court against Disney over an alleged breach of contract relating to the hybrid release. Her contract allegedly promised a solely theatrical release, with the actress expecting to receive a commission based on box office performance. Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige had reportedly been against a hybrid release as well in order to avoid such a situation. Dwayne Johnson recently claimed that he had no such plans to sue the company, reportedly preferring a hybrid-release to maximize viewership overseas in markets where a theatrical release would be otherwise impossible.
Disney plan to launch a franchise from the film, akin to Pirates of the Caribbean, so a high box office turnover would certainly be a positive sign for the fledging franchise. Judging from the current figures, it looks like this would be a smart decision. Of course, this is only one weekend, and time will tell whether Jungle Cruise is able to maintain this momentum after its opening few days. For the time being however, it appears that the film is certainly proving popular with audiences, both in theaters and at home.
Source: The Walt Disney Company
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