Capturing lightning in a bottle is a difficult thing to do, and if the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise couldn’t manage to hit the same heights as the first installment in four sequels hit by the law of diminishing returns, then what chance does any other would-be franchise have?
We’ve already seen Disney try and bolt the formula onto the Western in The Lone Ranger, a much sandier setting in Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time and the magical fantasy of The Sorcerer’s Apprentice, all of which were critical and commercial disappointments. However, the first reactions to Jungle Cruise are rolling in, and it looks as though the Mouse House could be on to a winner.
Not only is the effects-heavy fantasy headlined by Dwayne Johnson and Emily Blunt drawing comparisons to Pirates of the Caribbean, but it’s also bringing 1999’s The Mummy to mind, which is great news for audiences when the old school adventure with Brendan Fraser and Rachel Weisz remains a perennial cult favorite and as re-watchable as ever 20 years later.
Jungle Cruise is coming to theaters and Disney Plus Premier Access on Friday, and a hybrid release probably means it won’t be able to maximize its undoubted box office potential. However, if Black Widow can score $60 million from streaming sales in a single weekend, then you’d have to image a big budget blockbuster starring Dwayne Johnson should be able to perform to a similar standard.
It wouldn’t be unfair to say that a lot of folks weren’t expecting much from Jungle Cruise, but if the finished product matches the early reactions then we could have a sleeper hit on our hands that offers ideal summer movie fun.