‘Jungle Cruise’ Sets Sail With A $34.2 Million Domestic Opening; Adds $30 Million More On Disney Plus
After the runaway success of the Pirates of the Caribbean series, it’s surprising that it took Disney 18 years to turn another beloved theme-park ride (2015's Tomorrowland is a land, not a single ride) into a potential blockbuster movie franchise. However, after the long-awaited arrival of the studio’s splashy, E-ticket adventure Jungle Cruise, the jury is still out on whether the long wait was worth it. Yes, the family-friendly, white-water spectacle easily debuted in the top spot with a $34.2 million haul at the domestic box office (plus another $30 million from premium rentals on its Disney Plus streaming service). But considering its steep $200 million production budget and the fact that it’s top-lined by, literally, one of Hollywood’s biggest movie stars, Dwayne Johnson, the result can’t help but feel a little lackluster.

Originally slated for release in July 2020, Jungle Cruise was one of the most high-profile theatrical casualties of the COVID-19 pandemic. Finally hitting multiplexes after sitting for a year on shelves, the PG-13-rated tentpole (which costars Emily Blunt) bowed amidst a new spike in coronavirus cases spurred by the Delta variant. And while Disney’s hopeful franchise-starter outperformed box-office predictions that had it opening between $25-$30 million, the large number of viewers who opted to watch the film at home on Disney’s streaming service for a $30 upcharge raised questions about whether the studio’s hybrid-release model was cannibalizing its titles’ theatrical prospects. A legal dispute raised by Black Widow star Scarlett Johansson last week about this very question only served to highlight the issue.

Nevertheless, Jungle Cruise’s $34.2 million debut weekend at the North American box office made it, hands down, the most noteworthy opening during a weekend frame that featured three major roll-outs (the other two were A24’s The Green Knight and Focus Features’ Stillwater). Despite Cruise's mixed reviews from critics (63% fresh on Rotten Tomatoes), the action-heavy cross between Raiders of the Lost Ark and The African Queen scored far better with audiences, who gave it an A- CinemaScore grade. Jungle Cruise earned a $7,935 per-screen average in 4,310 locations. Its performance was less impressive overseas, where it pulled in $27.6 million in 47 international markets, bringing its cumulative worldwide theatrical total to $61.8 million. Considering its lofty budget, Jungle Cruise has a long, upriver journey ahead of it if it wants to get into the black.

Meanwhile, the battle for the runner-up spot this weekend remained a tight one as of press time. Based on early projections, the second-place finish appears to be tilting toward indie studio A24’s The Green Knight. The R-rated medieval fantasy starring Dev Patel bowed to $6.78 million at the domestic box office, where it scored a $2,431 per-screen average in 2,790 theaters. An ethereal reinterpretation of the famous Arthurian adventure about Sir Gawain, The Green Knight is yet to open abroad. However, it has caused critics to swoon, giving the film a 89% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

Just below, in third place, was director M. Night Shyamalan’s supernatural chiller, Old. The PG-13-rated release from Universal took in $6.76 million in its sophomore session, falling off -59.9% from the previous weekend. The film, which opened in first place last weekend and traces the mysterious aging process of a group of visitors to a seemingly idyllic stretch of sand and surf, earned a $2,000 per-screen average at 3,379 locations, bringing its two-week domestic total to $30.6 million. To date, Old has added $17.9 million from international ticket buyers, bringing its worldwide cume to $48.5 million.

In fourth was Disney’s latest Marvel extravaganza Black Widow, which racked up $6.4 million in its fourth weekend in theaters. The PG-13-rated superhero stand-alone starring Scarlett Johansson fell another 44.7% from the previous frame, scoring a $1,912 per-screen average in 3,360 theaters. After a month, its domestic box-office take stands at a hair under $167.1 million. Factoring in its $176.5 million haul from overseas markets, the film’s worldwide cume rests at slightly less than $343.6 million. As with Jungle Cruise, it remains difficult to say just how much of an impact the film’s availability on Disney Plus Premiere Access has eaten into its theatrical performance during a pandemic with no precedent.

Rounding out the top five was the weekend’s only other major bow of note, Focus Features’ Stillwater. The R-rated thriller starring Matt Damon as a desperate father trying to free his daughter from prison overseas debuted with $5.1 million. The movie, which premiered at the Cannes Film Festival last month, is director Tom McCarthy’s first feature since his Best Picture winner Spotlight was released in 2015. With mostly upbeat reviews (75% on Rotten Tomatoes), Stillwater certainly benefited from Damon’s star wattage as he pushed the movie to $2,022 per-screen average in 2,531 theaters. Stillwater has not yet opened in theaters overseas.