Dwayne Johnson and Emily Blunt’s Jungle Cruise will likely open with $32 million but could (if it legs like Rampage and Jumanji: The Next Level) approach a $40 million Fri-Sun debut.
Walt Disney’s Jungle Cruise easily topped the domestic box office on Friday with $13.378 million. That’s likely to lead to an over/under $32 million weekend, for a decent-enough 2.42x weekend multiplier. In normal times, $32 million would be disappointing for this reported $200 million Dwayne Johnson/Emily Blunt action fantasy. However, with pandemic-specific circumstances not improving following the widespread existence more contagious Delta variant (and a large volume of Americans currently unvaccinated or unwilling to be vaccinated), this one may likely have to be judged on a stronger “Covid curve.”
So, yes, like Space Jam: A New Legacy and its $31 million debut two weeks ago, a $32 million launch for Jungle Cruise would be a “successful disappointment.” However, I’m more inclined to argue that this flick absolutely would have notched a bigger/better opening weekend in conventional circumstances. In normal times, a decently-reviewed (63% fresh and 6/10 on Rotten Tomatoes) Walt Disney live-action adventure flick starring two kid-friendly and well-liked movie stars and based on a famously enjoyable theme park ride which offered at least the promise of Mummy/Pirates of the Caribbean-style thrills would be an easy sell.
Even in non-Covid times amid a conventional theatrical environment, Snake Eyes was always likely to bomb and Space Jam: A New Legacy was a commercial question mark. Heck, I’d say the same thing about The Suicide Squad (five-years-later sequel to a somewhat disliked smash hit which lacks most of the elements that drove folks to see it in the first place), but we’ll see if sky-high reviews can move the needle next weekend. But Jungle Cruise would likely have flirted with a $50 million debut had it opened sans Disney+ Premier Access and sans Covid last July as initially intended. It might have been Disney’s first new live-action franchise (outside of the MCU) since National Treasure in 2004.
However, one reason I am not entirely down in the dumps on the film’s commercial prospects is because both Jumanji: The Next Level and Rampage earned bigger-than-expected weekend multipliers. The kid-friendly sequel opened with $59 million from a $19 million Friday in late 2019 while the video game adaptation notched a $35.7 million debut from a “soft” $11.5 million Friday in early 2018. I’d also include Kong: Skull Island ($60 million from a $20 million debut in early 2017), but that one obviously didn’t star “The Rock.” Point being, I don’t want to spend this whole post decrying a soft debut only to watch it clear $40 million for the weekend.
The other reason I’m not yet ready to go all doom-n-gloom is that, Black Widow aside, Disney’s recent theatrical releases have been exceptionally leggy. Raya and the Last Dragon is no hit, but it has earned $54.7 million domestic from an $8.5 million Fri-Sun debut (6.4x). Cruella is arguably doing close to how it would have under conventional circumstances (which complicates rumors that Emma Stone may sue Disney over the Disney+ release), with $85 million domestic from a $26.5 million Fri-Mon Memorial Day weekend launch. They’ve got 20th Century’s Free Guy on August 13, but otherwise this is the last Disney biggie until Shang-Chi on Labor Day weekend.
I’m very curious to see if Disney releases the “opening weekend” revenue for the “Premier Access” platform ($30 to lease the film if you’re a Disney+ subscriber), as I imagine they would have done so absent the Scarlett Johansson lawsuit. Again, more than most big movies offered up this summer, I’d argue that Jungle Cruise may be a tentpole that took a real hit from Covid. That quarantined families arguably spent part of last year watching the very films (The Mummy, Indiana Jones, Pirates of the Caribbean, etc.) that inspired Jungle Cruise, there may be a “Why go to theaters when I can watch the better version at home?” mentality. But ask me again tomorrow.