By Brent Lang
LOS ANGELES (Variety.com) - "The Jungle Book" dominated the weekend box office, grossing a massive $103.6 million, and extending the Walt Disney Company's success in making live action versions of its classic animated features.
That ranks as the second biggest April opening in history, behind only "Furious 7's" $147.2 million launch. With "Cinderella," "Alice in Wonderland," "Maleficent," and now "The Jungle Book," this strategy of revitalizing fairy tales has become a virtual brand onto itself. One that nearly rivals Disney's Marvel, Pixar, and LucasFilm projects. The studio will continue to mine its library; "Beauty and the Beast" with Emma Watson hits theaters on March 17, 2017, and new versions of "Cruella De Ville" and "Peter Pan" are in the works.
Critics loved "The Jungle Book" handing it a 95% "fresh" rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Word-of-mouth for the film also looks strong. The picture received an A CinemaScore, which could set it up for a healthy run in the days and weeks ahead. Families made up 49% if the opening weekend audience. The film performed well in Imax, earning $10.4 million, and 43% of its domestic opening weekend gross came on 3D screens.
Jon Favreau ("Iron Man") directed the $175 million, which used digital wizardry to conjure up Rudyard Kipling's jungle setting. Bill Murray, Ben Kingsley, Idris Elba, and Scarlett Johansson head up the vocal cast with Neel Sethi making his feature film debut as Mowgli, the feral child at the heart of the story.
Despite the shadow cast by "The Jungle Book," New Line and MGM scored with "Barbershop: The Next Cut." The third film in the "Barbershop" series racked up a sterling $20.2 million from 2,661 locations. Women comprised 54% of ticket buyers, and 66% of consumers were over the age of 25.
The weekend's other new entry, Lionsgate's action thriller "Criminal," debuted to $5.8 million from 2,683 locations for a sixth place finish. The story of a convict who is implanted with the memories of a dead CIA agent in order to finish a mission stars Kevin Costner, Tommy Lee Jones, and Gary Oldman. It cost just north of $30 million to produce.
Last weekend's champion, the Melissa McCarthy comedy "The Boss," dropped 57%, taking third place with $10.2 million. The story of a business icon whose career is derailed by insider trading has earned $10.2 million in two weeks of release.
"Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice" captured fourth place, adding $9 million to its $311.3 million domestic haul.
In limited release, the Weinstein Company opened the musical-dramedy "Sing Street" in five locations, where it grossed $68,979 for a per-theater average of $13,796. A24 debuted the horror-thriller "Green Room" in three locations, earning $91,000, for a leading per-theater average of over $30,000. It will expand nationally on April 29.