Disney’s “Jungle Cruise” will easily sail to the top of box office charts when it opens in movie theaters on Friday.
The family-friendly fantasy adventure, starring Dwayne Johnson and Emily Blunt, is expected to generate at least $25 million from 4,200 North American locations over the weekend, with some estimates projecting an opening north of $30 million. Even by pandemic standards, that wouldn’t be a particularly strong start for a movie that cost $200 million to produce, not including marketing fees.
However, “Jungle Cruise” won’t be relying solely on box office revenues to turn a profit. Since the film is debuting simultaneously on Disney Plus for a premium price, the studio will also be factoring in its global “consumer spend.” That’s the term Disney has used for the revenues generated on Disney Plus Premier Access, where select movies are available for $30 on top of a monthly subscription. In a break from industry tradition, Disney disclosed earlier in July that “Black Widow” earned $60 million in its initial weekend on Disney Plus, marking the first time the studio publicly revealed financial figures tied to its streaming service. Disney is expected to again share Disney Plus sales for “Jungle Cruise.”
Since there’s not much to go off in terms of comparisons, it’s unclear what kind of Disney Plus numbers would be successful for “Jungle Cruise.” The PG-13 film, based on the Disney theme park ride, doesn’t have the kind of devout fanbase that follows Marvel movies so it isn’t likely to match “Black Widow’s” start on Disney Plus. For “Raya and the Last Dragon” and “Cruella,” two other Disney movies that had a similar hybrid release on Disney Plus, the studio kept rental sales private.
“Jungle Cruise” is making its way to the big and small screen after several pandemic-related delays. Yet its arrival comes amid a resurgence in COVID-19 cases across the country and renewed public concern about congregating in indoor spaces. So far, the highly contagious Delta variant hasn’t appeared to hinder moviegoing, but that could change if infections continue to spike. This week, the Centers for Disease Control suggested that even fully vaccinated individuals wear a mask inside. “Jungle Cruise” is also landing internationally in most major territories, aside from China, where the film has not been dated yet.
Set in the early 20th century, the movie follows a morally dubious riverboat captain (Johnson) who takes an intrepid British scientist (Blunt) and her brother (Jack Whitehall) on a mission to find the Tree of Life, which is believed to possess healing powers. “Orphan” and “The Shallows” filmmaker Jaume Collet-Serra directed “Jungle Cruise,” which has gotten mixed reviews and holds a 66% average on Rotten Tomatoes.
“Jungle Cruise” may be the only movie currently in theaters to feature The Rock punching a tiger, but it won’t be this weekend’s only new nationwide release. A24’s medieval fantasy drama “The Green Knight” with Dev Patel, and the Focus Features dramatic thriller “Stillwater” featuring Matt Damon, will also premiere in cinemas across the country.
“The Green Knight” is directed by David Lowery and is expected to earn $4 million from 2,790 theaters in its opening weekend. Inspired by the Arthurian legend, “The Green Knight” tells the story of King Arthur’s headstrong nephew, who embarks on a quest to confront the eponymous Knight — a gigantic tree-like creature. The supporting cast includes Alicia Vikander and Joel Edgerton. The film has been warmly received by critics, with Variety’s Owen Gleiberman referring to the film as a “somberly majestic medieval death trip with moments of true enchantment.”
Unlike “Jungle Cruise” and other summer releases, “The Green Knight” and “Stillwater” won’t be available to watch at home and will only be playing in cinemas for the time being. “Stillwater,” about one man’s quest to clear his daughter’s name, is screening in 2,531 locations and is eyeing a similar mid-single digit start to “The Green Knight.” The well-reviewed movie, which premiered at this year’s Cannes Film Festival, is loosely based on the story of Amanda Knox, an American who spent four years in an Italian prison after her roommate abroad was murdered. In “Stillwater,” Damon’s character is an oil worker in Oklahoma who finds out his estranged daughter (played by Abigail Breslin) was falsely arrested and charged with murdering her girlfriend while studying abroad in Marseille, France.