Minutes after news broke Sunday that “The Jungle Book” dramatically leaped past first-weekend estimates, box office watchers were predicting the Disney live-action remake would easily hold the No. 1 position in its second week — even against the opening of Universal’s live-action sequel “Huntsman: Winter’s War.”
Now that the dust has settled on Disney’s latest monstrous debut, something even more dramatic is becoming clear: Jon Favreau‘s “The Jungle Book” could earn more than $1 billion worldwide when all is said and done.
“This ‘Jungle’ is totally poised to rumble to $1 billion,” ComScore analyst Paul Dergarabedian told TheWrap. “It has long term play-ability and real shot at reaching this lofty milestone.”
The film, which has earned rave reviews and an “A” from CinemaScore, beat first-weekend expectations by roughly $30 million to earn $103.6 million domestically — and the international numbers were just as promising, netting $187.4 million.
So far, the film has garnered a massive $291 million worldwide — a big push toward the billion-dollar mark.
As of now, 24 films have surpassed $1 billion at the box office, with Disney’s “Zootopia” quickly closing in on the marker after earning $883.7 million to date worldwide. (That’s an impressive feat given the fact that the animated feature is not a sequel, nor based on a popular book, and does not involve any superheroes).
The billion-dollar movie club is not nearly as exclusive as it used to be, and with “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” bringing in $2 billion, box office billions are becoming more commonplace — especially with more “Star Wars” movies, superhero franchises and remakes slated through 2023. (Yes, “Avatar 5,” we’re talking about you!)
Take other billion-dollar-plus Disney films, like “Avengers: Age of Ultron,” which amassed $1.4 billion worldwide, and “Frozen” which garnered $1.3 billion. “Ultron” made significantly more than “Jungle Book” in its first weekend, earning $201 million worldwide — roughly $6 million shy of initial predictions.
But “Book” notably outperformed estimates, and is barreling toward an impressive second weekend. “Frozen” only earned $198.1 million worldwide by week three — but it had a more staggered international rollout.
“The Jungle Book” also has something else in its favor: lack of competition from other family films in North America. “It has nearly a full month to roam multiplexes as the only bona fide family blockbuster in theaters,” Jeff Bock of Exhibitor Relations told TheWrap. “You can be sure it’ll make make a run at a billion.”
Even the release of “Captain America: Civil War” on May 6 shouldn’t slow the “Jungle Book” juggernaut. “There is more than enough room for those two cinematic stablemates,” Bock said.
Given that Disney’s live-action, CGI-heavy sequel based on Rudyard Kipling’s tales keeps its better-than-expected momentum up this coming weekend, joining the coveted billion-dollar club is within reach.