Could Streaming Releases Skew the Success of Summer Blockbusters like JUNGLE CRUISE?

Photo from “Disney Jungle Cruise” Instagram

Could Streaming Releases Skew the Success Summer Blockbusters like JUNGLE CRUISE?

By Movieguide® Staff

JUNGLE CRUISE, the adventure movie based on the ride of the same name at Disney theme parks, opened to $34 million at the domestic box office and an additional $30 million on Disney+. 

Under normal circumstances, the totals would classify the $200 million summer blockbuster as a box office flop. However, as domestic theaters continue to reopen, data analysts and critics are struggling with reporting the success of a movie. According to Comscore, around 85% of theaters in the U.S. are open. 

In regards to recent blockbuster releases, JUNGLE CRUISE matched up with previous releases like SPACE JAM: A NEW LEGACY ($31 million), GODZILLA VS. KING ($31 million), and CRUELLA ($21 million). However, the adventure starring Emily Blunt and Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson failed to compete with the movies that exceeded expectations like A QUIET PLACE PART II ($47 million), F9 ($70 million), and BLACK WIDOW ($80 million). 

“At this point, the recurring theme on these day-and-date releases is that they’re merely fine in the best of times, and even that feels generous to say,” Shawn Robbins, the chief analyst at Box Office Pro, said. “Success is extraordinarily relative right now and hard to qualify.”

“‘Jungle Cruise’ was weak because, even without headwinds, it’s so far from what would be considered good,” David A. Gross of Franchise Entertainment Research said. “That movie needed to open at $80 million to $100 million to fulfill its tentpole aspirations.”

JUNGLE CRUISE followed the day-and-date release pattern of previous Disney movies like BLACK WIDOW and CRUELLA. However, many have begun to question the system, first implemented by Warner Bros. following their deal with HBO Max, after actress Scarlet Johannson sued Disney for breaching contract. 

Movieguide® previously reported

The BLACK WIDOW star sued the Walt Disney Company, claiming that their simultaneous release of the summer blockbuster in theaters and their streaming service Disney+—for 30 dollars—violated their original contract with the actress.

“Good for her,” a Hollywood talent agent said, according to Variety. “A lot of other actors are cheering for Scarlett and rooting her on. She has a lot of power and that makes this a visible conversation that puts Disney on the spot. By doing all of this in public, she might be able to change the rulebook.”

As streamers became a mainstay for entertainment during the COVID-19 pandemic, studios feared that they would not be able to compensate their casts and crew for hybrid releases in theaters and on streaming.

This became apparent when HBO Max struck a deal with Warner Bros. to show their complete 2021 slate of movies, including the highly anticipated DUNE, in theaters and on their streaming service.

Many executives expressed their concern because traditional payouts for actors result from the movie’s success at the Box Office, not on a streaming platform.