‘Jungle Cruise’ sails atop box office despite COVID concerns

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)
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) (© 2021 Disney Enterprises, Inc. All Rights Reserved.)

LOS ANGELES – Despite growing concerns over the delta variant, “Jungle Cruise” still drew moviegoers out to theaters during the film’s opening weekend to sail atop the North American box office.

The Disney film starring Dwayne Johnson and Emily Blunt exceeded expectations by pulling in more than $34.1 million over the weekend. The adventure movie was estimated to open with around $25 million to $30 million domestically, but it outpaced those numbers despite the surge in the coronavirus cases.

Globally, “Jungle Cruise” brought in a total of $90 million, including $27.6 million in the international box office and more than $30 million from Disney Plus.

“In this pandemic-challenged market place, it overperformed,” said Paul Dergarabedian, the senior media analyst for Comscore. “It didn't really seem like the streaming component hurt the box office in any significant way. The movie theater is still showing its resilience and appeal to moviegoers despite the fact that there's so much news everyday, most of it not moving in the right direction, in terms of the pandemic.”

“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.

Matt Damon’s “Stillwater” opened at No. 5 with $5.1 million but faced criticism as well. The drama film was blasted by Amanda Knox, who spoke out last week about her name being associated with the new movie, saying any connection rips off her story without her consent at the “expense of my reputation.”

Knox called out the film’s director Tom McCarthy in a series of tweets for using her name to promote the movie.

“Space Jam: A New Legacy” has progressively dropped to No. 6 after going No. 1 two weeks ago. “Snake Eyes” fell to seventh after the film starring Henry Golding as the warrior-in-training debuted No. 2 last week.

“F9: The Fast Saga” placed eighth at the box office. The film pulled in $2.6 million and totaled more than $168 million domestically after six weeks.

“Escape Room: Tournament of Champions” and “The Boss Baby: Family Business” rounded out the top 10.

Dergarabedian wondered how the news on coronavirus cases would affect moviegoers' decision to watch films at theaters. He thinks the appeal of the film like “Suicide Squad” — opening domestically on Aug. 6 in theaters and streamed on HBO Max — will play a role whether they go or not.

“If people feel comfortable and safe, and adhere to the protocols, I think we could see a good number on that movie, even though its available at home,” Dergarabedian said. “This market is being driven by the product.”

Estimated ticket sales for Friday through Sunday at U.S. and Canadian theaters, according to Comscore. Where available, the latest international numbers for Friday through Sunday are also included. Final domestic figures will be released Monday.

1. “Jungle Cruise," $34.1 million.

2. “The Green Knight," $6.78

3. “Old,” $6.76 million.

4. “Black Widow,” $6.4 million.

5. “Stillwater,” $5.1 million.

6. “Space Jam: A New Legacy,” $4.2 million.

7. “Snake Eyes,” $4 million.

8. “F9: The Fast Saga," $2.6 million.

9. "Escape Room: Tournament of Champions,” $2.2 million.

10. “The Boss Baby: Family Business,” $1.3 million.