When Disney takes one of its animated fairy tales and creates a modern, live-action version, the result is usually box office gold. With “The Jungle Book,” the trend continues.
The film, starring newcomer Neel Sethi, grossed an estimated $103.6 million in the U.S. and Canada, coming in well above the highest analyst projections of $80 million as well as the studio’s more modest estimates of just $65 million. This makes it the second largest April opening in history, behind last year’s “Furious 7,” and the highest April opening for a PG-rated release, above 2011’s “Hop.”
But “The Jungle Book,” based on both Rudyard Kipling’s late-19th century collection of stories and Disney’s swinging animated musical from 1967, didn’t come cheap. Directed by “Iron Man’s” Jon Favreau, it cost an estimated $175 million to produce. It features the voices of Bill Murray, Idris Elba and Lupita Nyong’o as the animals of man-cub Mowgli’s world.
Luckily, the Burbank entertainment giant has already found a robust business in modern fairy tale remakes, including hits like 2010’s “Alice in Wonderland” ($1 billion in global box office sales) and 2014’s “Maleficent” ($758 million). Last’s year’s “Cinderella” fetched nearly $68 million in its opening weekend, leading to more than $200 million total in the U.S. and Canada and an additional $341 million from other countries.
“‘The Jungle Book’ cemented Disney Live Action, led by Sean Bailey, as the preeminent studio that’s reimagining these stories for a new audience,” Hollis said. He encourages audiences to stay tuned for forthcoming live action recreations of “Dumbo,” “Cruella,” “Maleficent 2” and “Beauty and the Beast.’
The film also had a stellar performance globally, after opening this weekend in China, France, and Germany, among other markets. “The Jungle Book” took in $136.1 million internationally.
As for the week’s other new releases, Warner Bros.’ “Barbershop: The Next Cut” experienced a solid opening, but Lionsgate’s “Criminal” struggled to find an audience.
“The Next Cut” landed in second place. Though it was projected to take in $25 million in ticket sales, the comedy sequel grossed $20.2 million in its first week.
Comedy sequels are often gambles for studios, but “The Next Cut” received favorable reviews from audiences and critics alike. Moviegoers gave the movie an A-minus CinemaScore while 92% of Rotten Tomatoes critics rated it positively.
MGM and Ice Cube’s Cube Vision oversaw production on the film.
As for Lionsgate’s “Criminal,” the action-suspense film starring Kevin Costner landed well behind a host of box office holdovers for a sixth-place finish with $5.85 million, below its $7-million to $9-million projections.
Costner plays a death row inmate whose mind is implanted with the memories of a dead operative. The film also features Ryan Reynolds, Gal Gadot and Gary Oldman.
FOR THE RECORD
April 17, 1:44 p.m.: An earlier version of this post said Kevin Costner plays a CIA agent in “Criminal.” He plays a death row inmate.
In fourth place was Warner Bros.’ poorly reviewed “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.” In its fourth week, the caped crusaders pulled in $9 million. This brings its gross to date to $311.3 million in North America.
Disney’s “Zootopia” rounded out the top five with $8.2 million in its seventh week. This brings the animated picture’s cumulative gross to $307.5 million.
Get your life! Follow me on Twitter: @TrevellAnderson.