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Disney’s latest live-action Jungle Cruise rode to $2.7 million in Thursday previews at the North American box office.
The family friendly adventure – based on the iconic Disney ride — is also being made available simultaneously in the home via Disney+ Premier Access, a decision made several months ago because of ongoing concerns over the COVID-19 pandemic and the slow nature of the box office recovery.
Earlier this May, Disney’s live-action Cruella started off with $1.4 million in previews on its way to earning $26.5 million over the long Memorial Day weekend.
Jungle Cruise, starring Dwayne Johnson and Emily Blunt, is tracking to open in the $25 million to $30 million range domestically and $40 million-plus overseas. Jaume Collet-Serra directed the $200 million tentpole, which hopes to launch a new franchise, much as the first Pirates of the Caribbean did.
In pre-pandemic times, a domestic opening of at least $50 million would have been considered a suitable start for a Disney event title featuring one of the world’s most popular stars. However, a resurgence in COVID-19 cases in numerous locations across the U.S and overseas has slowed the box office recovery.
Actress Scarlett Johansson stunned Hollywood when filing a lawsuit Thursday alleging the Walt Disney Co. breached her contract when deciding to do a hybrid theatrical-streaming release for Black Widow and making it available on Disney+. The claim says the company left millions of dollars on the table in box office sales, which in turn hurt her compensation.
Disney shot back, saying that Johansson received $20 million in compensation and that she would have ultimately benefited from Disney+ revenue. The company declared that her claim showed “callous disregard for the horrific and prolonged global effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.”
Johnson has publicly endorsed a hybrid release for Jungle Cruise, saying it is the best way to provide consumers choice.
Matt Damon-starrer Stillwater, directed by Tom McCarthy, also debuts this weekend and earned $280,000 in previews. Focus Features and Participant recently debuted the movie at the Cannes Film Festival.
Green Knight and Stillwater are both expected to debut in the single digits for the weekend.
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