‘Jungle Cruise’ sails far ahead of others at box office
It’s the eighth wonder of the world!
The back side of water!
Fans love the jokes and puns delivered by Jungle Cruise skippers at Disneyland and Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom. And those jokes have been incorporated successfully into the “Jungle Cruise” movie, which blends drama and comedy seamlessly and is a hit at the box office.
“Jungle Cruise” sailed to $34.2 million in its first weekend, putting it at No. 1 and ahead of “The Green Knight” and the M. Night Shyamalan-directed “Old,” tied at $6.8 million for the weekend. “Black Widow” placed third at $6.4 million, and “Stillwater” was fourth $5.1 million.
In addition to its box office success, “Jungle Cruise” earned another $30 million last weekend on the Disney+ streaming service.
“Jungle Cruise” had a hefty production budget of $200 million, and all that spending shows in a film that’s full of special effects, action, a story with unexpected plot twists and strong chemistry between stars Dwayne Johnson and Emily Blunt as skipper Frank Wolff and researcher Lilly Houghton.
Like the theme park ride, the movie features a lot of comedy, but unlike the attraction, the film presents dramatic moments involving history, science and hope. But even the most serious scenes are quickly followed by ones with adventure, fun and intriguing characters. It’s like a book you can’t put down.
Like “Jungle Cruise,” the box office this summer has experienced unexpected twists.
“Space Jam: A New Legacy” surprised box office observers by surpassing the long-anticipated “Black Widow.”
Star Scarlett Johansson, whose ultimate pay depends on box office totals, is suing Disney for releasing the film on its streaming service at the same time it premiered in theaters. (Disney has argued that it will compensate her for the streaming service views.)
Studios such as Disney, Warner Bros. and Paramount have survived during the pandemic by releasing new content on their streaming services. And movies such as “Black Widow” and “Jungle Cruise” were delayed until movie theaters were fully reopened across the country.
But now that the theaters are busy again with new releases, Hollywood is wrestling with the question about how actors should be paid for content that appears on multiple platforms.
Another Disney movie, “Cruella,” a “101 Dalmatians” sequel starring Emma Stone, premiered at movie theaters and on Disney+ (with a premium surcharge, as was the case of “Black Widow”) on the same day. Various media are reporting that Ms. Stone is considering suing Disney. “Cruella” didn’t do well at the box office, and some Hollywood observers have speculated that the movie lost money at the box office because people could watch it at home.
But there could be factors besides streaming services in box office receipts. After having to deal with health and economic concerns during the pandemic, movie fans may be looking for lighter, funnier fare with familiar characters and themes. In other words, people may want to simply escape. And it might be easier to do that with Bugs Bunny and his animated pals and NBA star LeBron James in “Space Jam” than watching Black Widow, aka Natasha Romanoff (Ms. Johansson), deal with the tragedy and repercussions of her past. For all its comedic touches, “Black Widow” is a drama (but a good one that this writer has seen three times).
After dealing with a pandemic, people are embracing “Jungle Cruise” because it has a familiar name and theme, as well as two popular stars, Mr. Johnson and Ms. Blunt. Box office totals show people prefer that kind of escape over Mr. Shyamalan’s film about people quickly aging on an island in “Old.”
Again, “Old” tied for second place with “Green Knight,” a film about King Arthur’s nephew facing a giant at Camelot. That’s a great premise for a story, but “Green Knight” isn’t as well known as the Jungle Cruise that fans have been riding on since Disneyland opened in 1955.
Like the “Pirates of the Caribbean” franchise, “Jungle Cruise” offers the fun of seeing how not only the puns but elements from the ride are incorporated into the film.
Meanwhile, movie fans have more to look forward to, such as the long-anticipated James Bond movie “No Time to Die,” set for an Oct. 8 release in U.S. theaters. It will be Daniel Craig’s fifth movie as Bond, James Bond, in a franchise that continues to be both shaken and stirred.
Like “Jungle Cruise,” a James Bond movie is the kind of ride fans crave as the world tries to be normal again.