This Weekend in Box Office History: Disney’s Jungle Book Blockbuster, Influential R-Rated Films, & Dwayne Johnson’s Rise to Movie Stardom

Photo Credits: Disney, Universal Pictures, Miramax, Rogue Pictures, Universal Pictures

Our look back at some of the top box office performers of yesteryear continues this week as we all wait for the days of moviegoing and weekly box office forecasts to return.

In this edition, we focus on mid-April releases that have impacted the industry in various ways. You can check out previous versions of this column in our archives.

The Jungle Book (2016)
April 15 – 17, 2016

The middle of the last decade saw the prominent rise of Disney’s modern remakes of animated classics, and this one in particular blew away expectations with its $103.3 million opening weekend. At the time, that was the best ever for a live-action Disney remake, topped only by the following year’s Beauty and the Beast ($174.8 million) and 2019’s The Lion King ($191.8 million).

In addition, Jungle Book stood as the second best April debut in history after 2015’s Furious 7 until the Avengers sequels, Infinity War and Endgame, surpassed both of them.

The Jon Favreau-helmed film ultimately earned $364 million in North America, plus an additional $602.6 million overseas for a $966.6 million global box office haul. It was the fifth highest grossing film domestically that year (Disney’s fourth behind Rogue One, Finding Dory, and Captain America: Civil War) as well as fifth worldwide behind those aforementioned titles and Zootopia.

Jungle Book‘s success ultimately played a significant role in the studio’s decision to bring back Favreau in the director’s chair for last year’s blockbuster remake of The Lion King.

Kick-Ass
April 16 – 18, 2010

Ten years ago, Kick- Ass was a modest box office success with a $19.8 million opening weekend, enough to claim first place. Fans had hoped for more at the time, but it was a relative winner because R-rated comic book films were largely niche products at the time and this film’s $96.2 million global box office haul made for a respectable return on its $30 million budget.

Director Matthew Vaughn, of course, went on to helm the following year’s X-Men: First Class and both Kingsman films, all of which boast fan followings of their own.

While Kick-Ass didn’t have built-in awareness with well-known characters or enough star power to elevate its mainstream appeal to a higher level, it paved the way for R-rated superhero fare like the Deadpool films, Logan, and Birds of Prey.

Forgetting Sarah Marshall
April 18 – 20, 2008

The “Apatow boom” of the century’s first decade included this beloved comedy from writer and star Jason Segel. The film offered up more of the character-driven, often raunchy, comedy that previous Judd Apatow-produced movies like The 40-Year-Old Virgin, Knocked Up, and Superbad delivered in large doses to resounding success.

Sarah Marshall opened in second place with $17.7 million in its first frame, legging out to $63.2 million domestically. Globally, the comedy took in $105.8 million on just a $30 million production budget.

The film’s success ultimately pushed Jason Segel further into multi-hyphenate status as his original script drew praise from all corners of the industry and helped land him the starring and co-writing roles on Disney’s 2011 revival of The Muppets.

Hot Fuzz
April 20 – 22, 2007

One year earlier, the second installment of the “Three Flavours Cornetto” trilogy bowed to a fair $5.8 million weekend in limited release at 825 theaters stateside. It was a quaint sixth place debut for the comedy, but the film ultimately legged out to $23.6 million in North America.

Of course, Fuzz was the anticipated semi-follow-up to Shaun of the Dead after the latter’s immediate cult classic status struck pop culture in 2004. The film put stars Simon Pegg and Nick Frost on the global radar, not to mention director, writer, and their close friend, Edgar Wright — who went on to helm 2017’s Baby Driver.

Hot Fuzz ultimately generated $80.7 million worldwide and developed a cult classic status of its own merits. The picture is often cited as not just a favorite of the Cornetto trilogy (which concluded in 2013 with The World’s End), but also one of the greatest action films ever. Danny Butterman would be proud.

Kill Bill: Vol. 2
April 16 – 18, 2004

Quentin Tarantino’s only “sequel” (though, technically, the second half of one complete film) opened in first place on this weekend sixteen years ago to the tune of $25.6 million domestically — comparable to its predecessor’s $22.2 million start six months earlier — and finished with $66.2 million.

His two-volume homage to spaghetti westerns, martial arts cinema, and various other genres collectively earned $136.3 million in North America and $335 million globally, reaffirming the auteur filmmaker’s growing influence on modern cinema after a six-year hiatus that followed 1997’s Jackie Brown.

Though arriving nearly a decade after Pulp Fiction and Reservoir Dogs, the Kill Bill films were a precursor to Tarantino’s bigger box office stories in the years to come — the likes of which have included Inglourious Basterds, Django Unchained, and Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood.

To this day, though, die hard fans of Bill have latched onto hints of a third film — perpetuated by Tarantino himself.

The Scorpion King
April 19 – 21, 2002

Sure, this isn’t exactly a “fondly” remembered title among film circles or fans of the modern Mummy franchise. But… this was the film that launched Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson in his first Hollywood starring role and set the stage for him to become one of the most well-liked entertainers and reliable box office draws working today.

At the time, Scorpion King opened with a so-so $36.1 million domestic weekend and ultimately finished south of the $100 million threshold ($91.1 million). Globally, its $179 million haul was enough to label it a success off a $60 million production budget and spawn multiple direct-to-video sequels.

For perspective, Scorpion‘s performance didn’t — and wasn’t expected to — match the performance of the two Mummy films it spun off from (notably The Mummy Returns, where Johnson’s Scorpion King character was introduced in a minor role). Still, it gained a small following of its own.

Johnson went on to star in smaller-scale successes like The Rundown, Walking Tall, and various other films in the years after before helping to drive blockbusters like Fast Five, San Andreas, Central Intelligence, Hobbs & Shaw, and of course, the two recent Jumanji films.

Collectively, Johnson’s films have earned over $10 billion worldwide.

Suggestions for films or milestones to cover in future weekends? Let us know!

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