Owing to the uncertainties wrought by the ongoing COVID pandemic, a number of major production studios with affiliated streaming services have been experimenting this year with simultaneous releases of new films in both cinemas and streamers at the same day. The earnings of such a premiere style have been good, even if the streaming take is being accused of eating up more money that should be coming from the box office. Despite opposition even from some of their own stars, Disney has rolled out their movies to synched theatrical-streaming dates. “Jungle Cruise” is the media giant’s latest offering, with near-equal local box-office and Disney+ earnings.
CNBC tells us that Disney’s “Jungle Cruise,” their newest cinematic adaptation of a traditional Disneyland theme park ride attraction, has coasted to a comfortable opening weekend following its July 30 premiere on theaters and Disney+ Premier Access. As July turned into August, the film brought in $34.2 million from its US box office release, a further $27.6 million in international ticket sales, and a telling $30 million more from Premier Access, where the movie can be streamed on Disney+ for a $30 fee. These numbers are in keeping with the figures from previous blockbuster releases this past July, from Marvel’s “Black Widow” to “Space Jam: A New Legacy” from Warner.
Of course, considering that it took some $200 million to produce “Jungle Cruise” to start, such returns from tickets and streaming fees combined are a pale shadow to what numbers it could have drawn way back in 2019, the last year without a pandemic hanging over everyone’s heads. Granted, with vaccination still ongoing stateside, about 85% of North American cinemas have been operational as of this film’s release, cautious moviegoers still prefer to avoid theaters and go for the home streaming option.
This is much to the chagrin on the National Association of Theater Owners, who blames Disney for their loss of revenue when “Black Widow” tanked its box office beginning on the second week as more preferred the Disney+ Premier Access option. The “Black Widow” star Scarlett Johansson had also filed lawsuit against Disney for alleged contract violations, concerning a supposed exclusive cinema-first premiere for the movie, something the studio has dismissed as callous where the pandemic is concerned.
“Jungle Cruise” stars Dwayne Johnson, Emily Blunt, Jack Whitehall, Edgar Ramirez and Jesse Plemons. It features an adventure up the Amazon River of South America as a British medical expedition take a ride aboard a riverboat captained by a scam-running skipper in search of a mystical tree with flowers that are a natural panacea, while evading the dangerous wildlife, Amazon tribesmen, a rival German expedition and some cursed Spanish conquistadores.
Image courtesy of Variety