July 30, 2021
Walt Disney Studios is re-entering controversial PVOD waters July 30. The studio will begin streaming the newly released feature film Jungle Cruise into Disney+ subscriber homes as a $29.99 add-on while simultaneously launching the ride-based action adventure, starring Dwyane Johnson and Emily Blunt, in theaters nationwide.
Disney’s last hybrid release — Black Widow — performed well its first weekend, generating $80 million at the domestic box office while generating another $60 million in lucrative Premier Access revenue to dominate the opening weekend.
Then things changed.
Second-week box office revenue plummeted, and this week the Marvel Cinematic Universe hero’s lead star, Scarlett Johansson, filed a breach-of-contract lawsuit against Disney over the PVOD release.
Black Widow has generated more than $319 million at the global box office, including $159 million domestically.
In a widely derided statement, Disney characterized the litigation as “sad and distressing,” even publicly questioning Johansson’s alleged “callous disregard” for the ongoing pandemic and its global impact on Hollywood, movies and distribution.
Johansson claims PVOD denied her the maximum financial compensation from a traditional theatrical window release, a contractual predicament Disney hopefully avoided with the Jungle Cruise stars. Following the fallout over the first-ever Premier Access revenue disclosure, it’s doubtful Disney will go public with Cruise digital sales.
Regardless, the movie has generated positive buzz on social media and among critics, and features the popular Johnson and Blunt, who is coming off a big success in A Quiet Place Part II. Industry estimates eye the movie generating upwards of $35 million over the three-day weekend. Pre-pandemic, Jungle Cruise was expected to generate $50 million on its opening weekend.
Other new releases include The Green Knight, A24’s medieval fantasy film starring Dev Patel, Alicia Vikander and Joel Edgerton, among others, and Stillwater, featuring Matt Damon as a rough and tough American trying to rescue his daughter in a foreign country.
The films are projected to generate from $2 million to $7 million on the low end, and $12 million on the high end in ticket sales.