BY PAMELA MCCLINTOCK | HollywoodReporter.Com
Troy Warren for CNT
The Dwayne Johnson and Emily Blunt movie is riding into theaters amid renewed concerns over the COVID-19 delta variant.
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.
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 make 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 comepnsation 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.
Elsewhere, A24’s Arthurian fantasy The Green Knight earned $750,000 in Thursday evening previews. Directed by David Lowery, the critically acclaimed film stars Dev patel.
Matt Damon-starrer Stillwater, directed by Tom McCarthy, also debuts this weekend. Focus Features and Participant recently debuted at the Cannes Film Festival.
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