It’s not just Black Widow that’s getting a hybrid theatrical and streaming release from Disney this summer. Dwayne Johnson announced today that his highly anticipated Disney movie Jungle Cruise will be released both in theaters and on Disney+ with Premier Access on July 30th, making it the next in a series of Disney movies that are being presented to audiences with a couple of options.
Johnson co-stars with Emily Blunt in the fantastical period adventure film, which is based on the Disney theme park attraction of the same name but expands upon its mythology much the same way that Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl did when it was released. Johnson plays wisecracking skipper Frank Wolff and Blunt fills the role of intrepid researcher Dr. Lily Houghton. Lily travels from London to the Amazon jungle and enlists Frank’s questionable services to guide her downriver on La Quila — his ramshackle-but-charming boat. Per the official synopsis, Lily is determined to uncover an ancient tree with unparalleled healing abilities — possessing the power to change the future of medicine. Thrust on this epic quest together, the unlikely duo encounters innumerable dangers and supernatural forces, all lurking in the deceptive beauty of the lush rainforest. But as the secrets of the lost tree unfold, the stakes reach even higher for Lily and Frank and their fate — and mankind’s — hangs in the balance. Jaume Collett-Serra, with whom Johnson is reteaming on the DC movie Black Adam, directs the film from a screenplay by Michael Green (Blade Runner 2049) and Glenn Ficarra & John Requa (Focus).
On an Instagram post, Johnson said “the most important thing with our movie was to ALWAYS take care of families around the world by giving you options to watch it,” following that up with his “audience first” motto.
Indeed, while studios are making a big push to bring theaters back this summer and the U.S. is making immense progress in terms of vaccination rates, the truth is many other countries around the world are still struggling to catch up. And since every major Disney release is meant to be a worldwide event, it makes sense that the Mouse House would want to offer a streaming option for some of their biggest films this summer until everyone can safely go to theaters.
Jungle Cruise will not be free on Disney+, mind you. It’ll be available as part of the streaming service’s “Premier Access” option, for which subscribers must pay a one-time fee of $29.99 to add the movie to their Disney+ library. After that, they can watch it as much as they want. Mulan was the first film to follow this model last year, but Cruella and Black Widow will be following suit. This stands in contrast to films like Pixar’s Soul and upcoming Luca, which are simply released directly on Disney+ free to all subscribers.
Will additional Disney movies follow suit, or will Disney cut off the Premier Access model after July in the hopes of boosting its box office numbers with fall releases like Marvel’s Shang-Chi and Eternals? Time will tell, but for now, the biggest blockbusters from the most consistent box office king will be straddling the theatrical and streaming release strategies.
Check out Johnson’s Instagram post below.