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Top 10 Takeaways: How Blockbuster ‘The Jungle Book’ Felled ‘The Huntsman: Winter’s War’ at the Box Office

Top 10 Takeaways: How Blockbuster 'The Jungle Book' Felled 'The Huntsman: Winter's War' at the Box Office

Disney smashes “The Jungle Book” and “Zootopia” at different stages of their runs are dominating theaters, as Universal deals with the shortfall of “The Huntsman: Winter’s War.” The studio bet large on the return of Marvel star Chris Hemsworth and Charlize Theron plus Emily Blunt and Jessica Chastain. 

Clearly, not every hit movie does a franchise make. 

The box office heft of “The Jungle Book” is lifting 2016’s soaring numbers. Exhibitors are enjoying a wide range of films in the Top Ten, including Mexican “Compadres” (Pantelion/Lionsgate) in ninth (in only 348 theaters), and “Eye in the Sky” (Bleecker Street) edging out the new Tom Hanks film “A Hologram for the King” (Roadside Attractions) for tenth.

Read more on these and limited releases in Arthouse Audit.

The Top Ten

1. The Jungle Book (Buena Vista) – Week 2; Last weekend #1

$60,803,000 (-41%) in 4,028 theaters (no change); PTA (per theater average): $15,095; Cumulative: $191,477,000

2. The Huntsman: Winter’s War (Universal) NEW – Cinemascore: B+; Criticwire: C-; Metacritic: 35; Est. budget: $115 million

$20,080,000 in 3,791 theaters; PTA: $5,297; Cumulative: $20,080,000

3. Barbershop: The Next Cut (Warner Bros.) – Week 2 ; Last weekend #2

$10,830,000 (-47%) in 3,676 theaters (+15); PTA: $4,047; Cumulative: $36,031,000

4. Zootopia (Buena Vista) – Week 8; Last weekend #5

$6,661,000 (-19%) in 2,798 theaters (-411); PTA: $2,363; Cumulative: $316,436,000

5. The Boss (Universal) – Week 3; Last weekend #3

$6,080,000 (-39%) in 3,375 theaters (-439); PTA: $1,801; Cumulative: $49,508,000

6. Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (Warner Bros.) – Week 5; Last weekend #4

$5,520,000 (-39%) in 3,066 theaters (-439); PTA: $1,800; Cumulative: $319,502,000

7. Criminal (Lionsgate) – Week 2 ; Last weekend #6

$3,100,000 (-46%) in 2,683 theaters (no change); PTA: $1,155; Cumulative: $10,864,000

8. My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2 (Universal) – Week 5; Last weekend #7

$2,100,000 (-36%) in 1,749 theaters (-548); PTA: $1,201; Cumulative: $55,375,000

9. Compadres (Lionsgate)  NEW – Cinemascore;  Metacritic: 28; Est. budget: $3 million

$1,350,000 in 368 theaters; PTA: $3,668; Cumulative: $1,350,000

10. Eye in the Sky (Bleecker Street) – Week 7 ; Last weekend #10

$1,215,000 (-%) in 838 theaters (-53); PTA: $1,450; Cumulative: $14,967,000

The Takeaways

Another Hit-Driven Big Weekend

It’s “The Jungle Book” redux, with a strong hold (only down 41%) and its second (of a likely three) #1 weekend for nearly 48% of the Top Ten total. The $128-million number is a strong 58% better than the same weekend in 2016, continuing the recent surge. That’s a stellar 9% uptick over the first nearly four months of 2015. Most of this week’s heft though comes from that one film – the rest of the list is barely ahead of last year.

So once again the success comes from a breakout hit, and for the third time out of four (along with “Deadpool” and “Zootopia”) sustaining so far terrific holds with strong word of mouth (contrasted with the bigger opener, “Batman v Superman,” which could turn out to have the lowest domestic total of the three).

It’s not the only good news of the weekend, but the rest of the story is more mixed.

How Good Is “The Jungle Book”: What It Means for Disney

The first weekend’s much stronger than expected $103 million gross was tough to predict, but this weekend’s $61 million is actually more of a surprise. The weekday numbers, though strong, suggested (based on normal multiples) closer to $40 million, or generously perhaps $50 million. “Deadpool,” which thrived on strong audience response, had a seven times multiple from its first Thursday, compared to almost 11 for “Jungle.” The Fox/Marvel film dropped 57% its second weekend, considered strong considering how big the initial number was. 

That gets “Jungle” to $191 million in only ten days, clearly headed for over $300 million (the fourth for the year so far, itself unprecedented). As a second weekend, it is the best ever for April (just edging “Furious 7” last year,) and just fell short of “Alice in Wonderland” in 2010 as the best in the first four months of the year. “Jungle” is a bit shy of double “Maleficent”’s take among other Disney spring live-action family films. So we’re talking eye-popping results.

Worldwide it has already amassed $528 million, with the huge $1 billion+ haul six years ago for “Alice” conceivably in range. “Zootopia” leads among the four smashes thus far at just over $900 million (with more to come), “Batman v Superman” will top out around $900 million, the low end of expectations after its opening, and “Deadpool” (the least expensive of the group) ends up around $800 million. A few more weekends with strong holds like this and “Jungle: will be well on its way to equaling or best all worldwide. (Overseas, key markets Japan and Korea have yet to open).

“Zootopia” – the lowest opening gross of the bunch – continues to soar. It is still #4 this weekend, its eighth. It is heading for a higher domestic take than “BvS” as well (that film in its fifth weekend fell to #6, only $3 million ahead of Disney’s animated smash’s $316 million, which it will easily top).

This weekend pushed Disney’s distribution arm Buena Vista into first place for market share for 2015, edging out high-flying Twentieth Century Fox and its early year success. They are around 24%—more than third and fourth place Warners and Paramount combined – and those companies have had 24 releases in the market compared to Disney’s six!

“Huntsman”  the Latest Underachiever

Parallel to the four movies at or nearing $300 million are several touted releases expected to approach or cross $30 million in their first weekends based on stars and/or franchises. The latest – and lowest —as well as the most expensive by far is Universal’s “The Huntsman: Winter’s War.”

The recent formula for success – add originality to existing audience-friendly formulas – seemed to be partially fulfilled by this extension (not really a sequel) to “Snow White and the Huntsman,” which opened to $56 million in 2012 and ultimately $155 million domestic. That movie starred two red-hot stars: Kristen Stewart soon after her “Twilight” success and Chris Hemsworth four weeks after “The Avengers” and a year after the first “Thor.” The movie also preceded a spate of revivals of classic fairy tales targeted to wide audiences.

With Stewart moving on to artier, more challenging projects, Hemsworth failing to draw much attention beyond his Marvel work (both “Blackhat” and “In the Heart of the Sea” flopped despite top directors Michael Mann and Ron Howard respectively), Universal figured they needed to pull female audiences with returning Charlize Theron, who scored in actioner “Mad Max: Fury Road” and respected thespians Emily Blunt and Jessica Chastain, none of whom who are big general audience draws. 

Why did Universal’s Donna Langley turn this over to a first-time director (veteran FX designer Cedric Nicolas-Troyan, who also oversaw the second units for “Maleficent” and the earlier “Huntsman” film)? Yes, the movie looked swell (and cost $115 million) and offered more action, but failed to deliver a fresh spark, and audiences stayed away in droves. 

“The Huntsman” also fell victim to scathing reviews and superior competitors like “The Jungle Book” entering only its second week. Studios place films with a thought of their likely competition, and one can’t blame Universal too much for under estimating “Jungle” just like everyone else. They figured they scored a nice spot by giving themselves two weeks before the next Marvel juggernaut (“Captain America: Civil War” on May 6, likely to continue Disney’s domination). But routine is not cutting it these days. The same fate (although they cost less and didn’t fall nearly as short) has affected both Melissa McCarthy’s “The Boss” and Ice Cube’s “Barbershop: The Next Cut” in recent weeks. 

The box office is strong. As the successes are boosting other strong want-to-see films, audiences also seem to be a bit more cautious about checking out those that fall below that elevated level.


Amazingly, “Zootopia,” eight weeks into its huge run, has dropped only 19%. Its per theater average after shedding about 400 mostly lower-grossing theaters dropped less than 10%. It won’t top “Frozen” (never anticipated) but still has a shot of getting very close to “Inside Out” ($356 million). That’s $40 million still to take in, but it should be able to get most of the way if it keeps holding like this.

Last week’s openers “Barbershop: The Next Cut” and “Criminal” both fell 46%, a normal second weekend fall. For the former, that’s below the 2002 original but ahead of the 2004 outing. It is much better than “Ride Along 2,” which opened $18 million higher but was helped by its holiday weekend placement. The more modest fall indicates a good reaction as well as more evidence that it was hurt by “Jungle” like everything else. “Criminal” had a very weak start, so at best its modest drop offers a better chance to hold most theaters this week.

Despite its disappointing performance since opening, give credit to “BvS” to keeping its fall under 40%, so at least Warners can lay claim to sustaining most of its runs for a while longer and perhaps getting to $340 million, though that is much below their lofty expectations a few weeks back. 

Universal’s two women’s comedies “The Boss” (-39% for week three) and “My Big Fat Greek Wedding Part 2” (off 36% in its fifth) are both looking for totals of $65 million or so, more impressive for the less expensive or touted sequel.

Best of the bunch is “Eye in the Sky,” still thriving despite numerous challenges from other adult-impact wider release films, off only 21% to apparently hold on to tenth place.

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