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Credit: The Walt Disney Studios

Box office: Disney's Jungle Cruise sails away as the #1 movie of the weekend

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Aug 1, 2021, 1:39 PM EDT

As is typically the case for their movies on opening weekend, Disney took the top box office spot with Jungle Cruise. The film, based on the theme park ride and starring Emily Blunt and Dwayne Johnson, opened to $91.8 million globally. Despite concerns about the COVID-19 delta variant, it was the domestic box office that took in the most of the film's haul, with $34.2 million in theaters. Globally, the film took in another $27.6 million and those who rented the film using Disney+ Premier Access added another $30 million. 

Cruise's performance comes as a surprise to those who had been tracking the movie to open to $25-30 million domestically. With mixed reviews, it fell to Johnson and Blunt's banter in commercials and the former's massive social media presence to market the film, and it did not disappoint on that front. Time will tell if it maintains its momentum and becomes a reliable franchise for Disney in the vein of the Pirates movies. 

Jungle Cruise is the perfect summer adventure film, bringing a beloved theme park attraction to both the big screen and living rooms in a way that only Disney can," the Mouse House said in a statement. "We remain focused on offering consumer choice during these unprecedented times, and it is clear that fans and families value the ability to make decisions on how they prefer to enjoy Disney’s best-in-class storytelling."

With how successful both Black Widow and now Jungle Cruise have been with the dual releases in theaters and on Disney+, we asked analyst Paul Dergarabedian if it would be possible for Marvel's Shang-Chi & the Legend of the Ten Rings to follow suit when it releases on Sept. 3. "Shang has a lot of potential internationally," he answered. Going day and date streaming runs the risk of diluting the film's theatrical earnings. But, he pointed out that "the prestige and exclusivity" of a theatrical first run may help it once it comes to the small screen. 

Second place belongs to not one movie, but two: Old, M. Night Shymalan's new meme-worthy thriller that debuted to first place last week and has now added $6.76 million to its pile; and A24's The Green Knight. The latter film, based on the Arthurian poem and starring Dev Patel, opened with $6.78 million and rave reviews. Currently locked in a stalemate, the "winner" will be determined on Monday once numbers have been added up. 

Meanwhile, Black Widow snuck its way to fourth place. Despite the recent lawsuit hanging over the film and its dual release in theaters and Disney+, audiences added another $6.4 million to the Marvel spinoff, bringing it now to $343.6 million globally.

With the top films largely populated by new movies, Dergarabedian thinks studios made the right call in holding firm to their movies' release dates. "General consumer confidence may be shaken," he admitted to SYFY Wire, "but the escape the in-theater experience provides remains appealing." Dergarabedian further owed the healthy performance to the films provided this weekend. "A diverse array of content -- family adventure, fantasy, drama -- can still indeed drive enthusiastic moviegoers," he said. Using The Green Knight as an example, he felt that the film's cinematography "demands the canvas" of a theater screen to truly be appreciated. 

One movie that didn't make the top 5 for the weekend, but deserves to be called out is The Suicide Squad. That film, directed by James Gunn and a weird sequel/soft reboot hybrid of the 2016 DC movie, released a week in advance in the UK and France and scored $7 million. With positive reviews and word of mouth thanks to advance screenings, it'll potentially score big when it releases in full on Aug. 6. Unlike Jungle Cruise, however, those who decide to stay home and watch it on HBO Max won't have to pay a cent. 

Other notable entries include: Space Jam: A New Legacy ($118.6 million globally), Snake Eyes ($22 million globally), F9: The Fast Saga ($641.7 million globally), and The Boss Baby: Family Business ($70 million globally).