‘Jungle Cruise’ tops weekend box office despite renewed COVID-19 fears


FILE – This file image provided by Disney shows, from left, Jack Whitehall, Emily Blunt and Dwayne Johnson in a scene from “Jungle Cruise.” (Disney via AP, File)

LOS ANGELES (NewsNation Now) — The weekend box office proved that The Rock, now known to movie audiences as Dwayne Johnson, still has solid drawing power, as he and Emily Blunt, most recently seen creeping audiences out in “A Quiet Place Part II,” sailed Disney’s “Jungle Cruise” to an opening weekend tally of $34.1 million at the box office and $30 million from Disney Plus.

Global box office tally for the film was $90 million, factoring in the overseas box office of more than $27 million, according to the Associated Press.

That counts “Jungle Cruise” as a summer blockbuster in the age when even the first new Marvel movie in more than a year, “Black Widow,” can only draw $80 million in its opening weekend. And that was before mask mandates began to reappear and resurgent COVID-19 infections became big news.

“Jungle Cruise,” a film based on a Disney parks ride, also stars Jack Whitehall and Paul Giamatti. It’s a fairly straightforward adventure flick, sort of a blender-mix version of a “Lara Croft” film and “Raiders of the Lost Ark.” It’s the sort of movie that, pre-pandemic, would have filled theaters to bursting with parents desperate for some late-summer entertainment to distract their kids from the fast-approaching start of school.

Now, with streaming numbers within striking distance of those notched by the box office, it would appear that a lot of those parents were opting for movie parties at home in front of the big screen, where the popcorn is a lot cheaper and the pause button allows for pizza deliveries and mass bathroom breaks.

“Jungle Cruise” also earned five times more than “The Green Knight,” which came in at No. 2 with $6.78 million. The A24 film starring Dev Patel barely edged M. Night Shyamalan’s “Old,” which had $6.76 million after scoring the top spot last weekend.

“Black Widow” placed fourth after a past week of turmoil between Disney and the film’s lead, Scarlett Johansson. The actor sued the studio over the film’s streaming release, which she said breached her contract and deprived her of potential earnings.

Disney responded to Johansson’s claim saying she received $20 million in compensation and that she benefited from Disney Plus’ revenue. This is likely the first of many dustups between actors and studios as streaming releases cut into opening-day box office totals, on which a lot of actors’ bonuses are predicated.

Farther down the new release list, Matt Damon’s drawing power couldn’t save “Stillwater,” which opened with an underwhelming $5.1 million. It faced blistering criticism from Amanda Knox, who claimed the movie used her story without her consent, “at the expense of my reputation.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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