The Jungle Book Rocks All Ages at the Book Office

Jungle Book (Ian Gavan / Getty / Walt Disney Studios)
Ian Gavan / Getty / Walt Disney Studios

The Jungle Book, a remake of the 1967 Disney classic, grossed the sixth-highest opening weekend for a children’s movie last weekend, as the beloved tale of a boy adopted by a wolves and his journey to manhood dazzled all ages of viewers and earned top critic reviews.

Jon Favreau’s PG-rated movie racked up a 94 percent rating on “Rotten Tomatoes,” as the film grossed $103,570,000 in its April 15 to 17 weekend opening. With 4,028 theaters offering the movie, Donald Trump would have described the $25,713 gross per screen as “yuuuge”!

The take was substantially higher than the $60 million and $80 million opening weekend gate for such recent Disney PG live-action flics as Cinderella, Maleficent and Oz the Great and Powerful.

One analyst told the Hollywood Reporter, “Every studio executive dreams about the day they have a movie that plays to virtually all audiences irrespective of its rating, theme or target audience. ‘Jungle Book’ is the perfect realization of that dream.”

Knowing millennial parents would want their small children to experience the Jungle Book songs and adventure, Disney launched a sophisticated marketing campaign that featured the cutting-edge technology that allowed the orphaned boy Mowgli, played by Neel Sethi, to act against a blue screen stage in Hollywood and then have computer-generated imagery inserted later for all the nature and talking animal shots.

Although PG usually turns off teens and young adults, Disney pushed social media buzz about the plot as a revenge thriller and about high-tech breakthroughs to expand audience demographics.

The Jungle Book characters are constantly subject to intense and frightening peril from other species; from drought and famine; from natural disasters; and from forest fires. Tigers, snakes and other animals are involved in bloody fight scenes that include biting, slashing and implied death. Monkeys kidnap a boy, animals are crushed when a building collapses, and bees attack.

The campaign was rewarded with a ticket-buying audience that was 49 percent families and 43 percent adults. In addition, 11 percent of the audience was 50 or older, while 19 percent was between 35-49. And 8 percent were teenagers.

Here is a sampling of the critics’ comments:

Cinema Blend praised the film: “The Jungle Book is shot beautifully, and has a fantastic sense of wonder within the world being created. That translates into big-screen magic.”

IGN gushed: “Disney’s return to the story of The Jungle Book might feel bigger and look better than anything that’s come before, but at its core is a very human tale that resonates just as strongly no matter how spectacular its visual wrappings.”

The Guardian applauded:“Neel Sethi is terrific as Mowgli, whose frame and stance eerily echo those of his animated predecessor, while Bill Murray and Christopher Walken lend baggy appeal and mobster menace respectively to the vocal roles of Baloo and King Louie. As Shere Khan, Idris Elba scares; as Kaa, Scarlett Johansson seduces.”


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