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‘Jungle Book’ roars with $103.6 million debut

JAKE COYLE
The Associated Press

NEW YORK — The Walt Disney Co.’s “The Jungle Book” opened with $103.6 million in North America, making it one of the biggest April debuts ever at the box office and continuing the studio’s streak of unearthing live-action riches buried in its animated classics.

Jon Favreau’s update of Disney’s 1967 animated version of Rudyard Kipling’s book tells the tale of Mowgli with computer-generated imagery and big-screen bombast. A sizable 42 percent of the film’s domestic sales came from 3-D and premium-format screens.

“The Jungle Book” is just the latest of Disney’s string of live-action remakes of classic cartoons (“Cinderella,” “Alice in Wonderland,” “Maleficent”), most of which have fared well at the box office. More plundering of the Disney library is in the works: “Cruella De Ville” and “Peter Pan” are in development; “Beauty and the Beast” is scheduled for next March.

“There’s some consistency that’s happened here in the last few years as we’ve really made this a priority and a strategy from a company perspective,” said Disney distribution head Dave Hollis, who credited production president Sean Bailey with overseeing the live-action adaptations. “He’s been able to do it in a way that really makes them contemporary and, certainly in this case, fully utilizes available technology.

“We’ve got a lot more of these stories to tell.”

Glowing reviews: “The Jungle Book,” made for about $175 million, was propelled by glowing reviews from critics. It ranks as the second biggest April opening ever, behind only “Furious 7’s” $147.2 million debut.

It also took in an estimated $136.1 million overseas that includes $20.1 million so far in India, where it’s the third-highest grossing Hollywood release after 10 days. Ahead of the film’s big opening, Warner Bros. — sensing stiff competition — pushed the release of its own “Jungle Book” a year to October 2018.

Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst for Rentrak, says that the live-action remakes are proving to be another substantial engine for Disney, along with its franchise-building assets in Marvel, Pixar and Lucasfilm.

“To have this incredible vault of content that they can go back to and reimagine, retool and re-create for today’s audiences just gives them a depth and breadth of films that is almost unparalleled,” Dergarabedian said. “Disney has this knack for taking something that’s very old and making it new again.”

Openers: Opening in second place was Ice Cube’s “Barbershop: The Next Cut” with $20.2 million. The fourth film in the comedy series (which included the 2005 spinoff “Beauty Shop”) failed to match the $24.2 million debut of the previous “Barber Shop 2: Back in Business” in 2004, but it still supplied a solid opening for New Line and MGM.

The Kevin Costner action thriller “Criminal,” however, opened with a mere $5.9 million for Lionsgate. It cost around $30 million to make.

The Melissa McCarthy comedy “The Boss,” the No. 1 film last weekend, dropped steeply. It slid 57 percent with $10.2 million in its second week, landing in third place.

Two well-reviewed films opened in limited release: the Weinstein Co.’s musical coming-of-age tale “Sing Street” ($69,000 in five theaters) and A24’s bloody thriller “Green Room” ($91,000 in three theaters).

Ticket sales

Estimated ticket sales for Friday through Sunday at U.S. and Canadian theaters, according to comScore.

1. “The Jungle Book,” $103.6 million

2. “Barbershop: The Next Cut,” $20.2 million

3. “The Boss,” $10.2 million

4. “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice,” $9 million

5. “Zootopia,” $8.2 million

6. “Criminal,” $5.9 million

7. “My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2,” $3.3 million.

8. “Miracles From Heaven,” $1.9 million.

9. “God’s Not Dead 2,” $1.7 million.

10. “Eye in the Sky,” $1.6 million