Disney’s “The Jungle Book” had a stellar start at the box office, grossing $4.2 million in its Thursday previews.
The studio’s “Maleficent” grossed the same amount of money when it debuted in 2014. It eventually hit $69.4 million on its opening weekend. And 2015’s “Cinderella” opened to $2.3 million and grossed a first-weekend total of $67.9 million.
With a budget of $175 million, analysts are projecting a $70 million to $80 million opening weekend for the live-action remake, although the studio is being more conservative and is estimating a debut in the mid-to-high-$60 million range.
Should the Jon Favreau-directed movie hit the $80 million mark, it will surpass Disney’s most recent success of “Zootopia,” which earned $1.7 million on its first Thursday in March before it grossed $75.1 million domestically over its three-day opening weekend. “The Jungle Book” would also then be the third-best opener of the year, behind “Batman v Superman” at $166 million and “Deadpool” at $132.4 million.
“The Jungle Book” is based on Rudyard Kipling’s stories about Mowgli, an abandoned boy who gets raised by wolves and a black panther named Bagheera. While Disney released an animated version in 1967, the 2016 film stars Bill Murray as Baloo, Ben Kingsley as Bagheera, Scarlett Johansson as Kaa, Lupita Nyong’o as Raksha and newcomer Neel Sethi as Mowgli.
The film was also ruling Fandango’s advanced ticket sales on Thursday, scoring 94 out of 100 points on the Fanticipation buzz meter. It is outpacing “Cinderella,” “Maleficent” and “Oz: the Great and Powerful” in presales.
“The Jungle Book” currently holds a score of 95 percent on Rotten Tomatoes, making it Disney’s best-reviewed live-action adaptation of an animated film.
“Barbershop: The Next Cut” from MGM, New Line and Warner Bros. grossed $735,000 in Thursday previews.
Analysts are projecting a gross in the low-to-mid-$20 million range for the third film in the “Barbershop” franchise. The original 2002 film debuted to $20.6 million, and its 2004 sequel opened with $24.2 million.
Receiving a score of 25 percent on Rotten Tomatoes, the film is about a dead CIA operative’s memories, secrets and skills that are implanted into a death-row inmate in order to stop a diabolical plot — a mission that the operative couldn’t complete.