junglefeature

Movie Lovers, Who’s The Next Steven Spielberg?

Box Office Brasserie: Movie News For Movie Lovers

Do you hear the beating of drums? The rumble from the jungle is from none other than Disney’s latest box office juggernaut, “The Jungle Book,” which opened in limited release internationally this past weekend, nearly doubling up on the grosses of their last live-action adaptation, “Cinderella.”

What does this mean? Well, there’s a reason the Mouse House is already talking about a sequel with director Jon Favreau. With 95% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes, and being that there hasn’t been a family friendly flick in theaters for quite some time, get ready for piles of Inca gold to materialize in multiplexes around the globe.

Warner’s better be worried. The rival studio has a competing film, also based on Rudyard Kipling’s classic, that’s already in production with Andy Serkis at the helm, although now that has been pushed back to fall of 2018—hopefully that drops before Disney’s “Jungle Book 2” hits the big screen.

Already the world’s leading studio in term of cashflow—and it’s not even close—Disney is doing everything right, including keeping Favreau in the fold.

So let’s give credit where credit is due: Favreau is becoming the next Steven Spielberg right before our very eyes. Not only has he proven he can helm big-budget blockbusters with skill and ease—“Iron Man,” “Iron Man 2”—he also has that rare, nurturing family film genome that simultaneously works on a kid and an adult level—“Elf,” “Zathura.”

And on top of all that he’s a writer and actor for hire, and a good one at that, redefining and showcasing his dramatic chops with “Chef,” which was a cut above in terms of drama, and a very underrated and emotionally ripe slice of Los Angeles that is rarely scene on film anymore.

From “Swingers” to “Chef” he has captured the authentic flavor of what it’s like to live and breathe in LA; hopefully he makes these personal films more of a priority going forward—one for them, one for him.

No wonder Disney wants to keep this guy around…he’s the ace in the hole for “The Jungle Book,” which looks like an instant classic. Very difficult to do when you’re essentially launching from an animated classic, but Disney is making this transition seem downright color-by-number.

In 3,700+ theaters expect a raucous debut of around $85M, which would outpace “Cinderella” by quite a substantial margin, as Kenneth Branagh’s film opened last March with $67M. Remember, Disney’s live-action “Alice in Wonderland” surprised everyone back in March 2010, debuting with a thunderous $116M. This feels a lot like that.

Also hoping to be a cut above this weekend is the Ice Cube starrer, “Barbershop: The Next Cut.” The threequel, which Warner Bros. lifted from MGM, should do solid business, as its lineup features a top drawer urban cast—Cedric the Entertainer,  Nicki Minaj, Regina Hall, Eve and Common. It’s basically combining “Beauty Shop” and “Barbershop” into one flick. That could mean an opening of $23M in 2,600+ joints, which would be in the exact range of the previous two installments.

Getting pummeled by critics is nothing new to Kevin Costner. Liongate drops his latest, “Criminal,” an R-rated action thriller, one that looks as generic as its title and seems like the flick’s final destination should have been Redbox, not multiplexes.

Fact is, Costner hasn’t opened a movie over $20M+ in two decades, where he is billed as the star attraction. That movie? Why, “Waterworld,” of course. Yes folks, $21M in the summer of 1996, on its way to $88M domestic and $264M worldwide…on a budget of $175M.  And, the live-action show is still playing at Universal Studios…twenty years later. Suck it, Miami Vice!

Box office believe it or not: Costner has only opened two movies north of $20M: “Waterworld” and “Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves.” Crazy, isn’t that? I honestly would have guessed at least a half dozen.

“Criminal” launches its case for audiences in 2,500+ theaters—expect less than $10M, probably closer to $7M considering Rotten Tomatoes score is currently at just 10%.

Surprised Lionsgate is launching it as a Costner vehicle, instead of an ensemble, considering it boasts an impressive cast including: Tommy Lee Jones, Gary Oldman, Gal Gadot and Alice Eve.

In exclusive release, John Carney returns to what he does best–words and music. From the writer/director of “Begin Again” and “Once” comes a coming-of-age story about young lads trying to woo women…by forming a band. The way it was meant to be.

If you’re in the mood for a darker slice of the music biz, check out A24’s haunting little ditty entitled “Green Room,” also in exclusive release this weekend. The R-rated thriller stars Anton Yelchin, Imogen Poots and a wicked turn by Patrick Stewart. Worth seeking out.

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WEEKEND ESTIMATES:

  1. The Jungle Book – $84M
  2. Barbershop: The Next Cut – $23M
  3. The Boss – $13M
  4. Batman V Superman – $12M
  5. Zootopia – $8M

No doubt Disney execs will be rockin’ out to JUNGLE BOOGIE after this weekend’s receipts are totalled up. Take it away, Muppets.

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PRIME CUT OF THE WEEK: Disney’s “Doctor Strange” (November 4, 2016)

The Matrix meets Marvel. Ticket punched.

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CHOICE CUT OF THE WEEK: WB’s “Fantastic Beasts (Trailer #2)” (November 18, 2016)

This Harry Potter spinoff keeps looking better and better. And get this folks, Colin Farrell will FINALLY be in a hit movie. Game changer. As you may or may not know, “Fantastic Beasts” is part of a new trilogy from J.K. Rowling.

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Lead-In Poster Image Courtesy of Disney Movies

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Jeff Bock, NewsWhistle’s movie editor, is the senior box office analyst at Exhibitor Relations in Los Angeles, California. He can be reached at Jeff@NewsWhistle.com.