Debuting in China day-and-date with North America, Disney’s The Jungle Book walloped the $3.4 million opening day gross of the studio’s previous smash hit Zootopia, taking in $12 million on Friday (including $300,000 in Thursday midnight receipts) from just under 65,000 screenings across the mainland.
Image credit: Disney
Family films tend to see big bumps in China on their first Saturdays and Sundays—Zootopia shot up by 276 percent to $9.4 million on its second day and an additional 17 percent to $11 million on its third—so Jungle Book should enjoy a satiating drink at the PRC watering hole this weekend. If it sustains moviegoers’ interest, and its solid 8.1 rating on fan review site Douban.com indicates that it will, it could rival the $52 million premier weekend total that Dreamworks Animation’s Kung Fu Panda 3 enjoyed in January.
The Jon Favreau-directed fantasy-adventure is precisely the sort of movie that Chinese audiences love. With its dazzling 3D visuals, heartwarming story, and talking animal cast, it will be a surprise if The Jungle Book doesn’t wind up as one of China’s top 10 grossers this year. It dominated the multiplexes on its first day with a 65 percent share of aggregate nationwide revenue, and its only foreseeable serious competition won’t come until a few weeks from now when Disney’s next release, the Marvel superhero pic Captain America: Civil War, opens wide in May.
If Jungle Book is to reach the $1 billion worldwide theatrical gross club—only 26 films ever have—it will need China to kick in a couple hundred million dollars. That will require a leggy run with an opening day box office multiplier of at least 16x to 20x.
That’s an achievable, though certainly not easy, target. Rio, the Fox /Blue Sky Studios talking bird picture, scored a 16.3x multiple in its Middle Kingdom release back in 2011. A similar multiple for Jungle Book would result in a $196 million final PRC tally. If Jungle Book can match the multiple of Avatar, a film to which it has been widely compared, that would translate to 37.2 times its opening day for a massive $446 million run, which would make it China’s second highest grosser of all time behind Stephen Chow’s Mermaid.
A Zootopia-sized multiple of 67x would be very nice, but extremely unlikely. That picture recently became the leggiest movie in Chinese box office history on its way. It will finish up its spectacular China run this week with a final tally just under $240 million.