How Disney’s “The Jungle Book” Could Accidentally Make “Venom” a Hit

Matthew Loffhagen
Disney
(Photo: Disney)

So here’s a weird set of coincidences for you. Sony’s upcoming movie about Venom, Spider-Man’s emo cousin, is probably going to do pretty well at the box office.

And it’s all thanks to Disney’s “The Jungle Book”.

“Venom” is coming this October, which admittedly isn’t normally the most contested period at the box office. Typically, the summer is a better time to release a tentpole superhero movie, or to try and kick off a comic book cinematic universe.

What makes “Venom” unique is its bizarre horror element. Based on the trailers, this movie is darker and grumpier than even “Batman v Superman”. It makes sense to launch it in October, right in time for Halloween.

Heck, “IT” managed to clean up at the box office in October of last year, in spite of its R rating. The timing for “Venom” is as good as it’s going to get.

But now, things have got even better. “Venom” previously had one major release to compete with, in the form of “Mowgli”.

Serkis’ Failure is Sony’s Gain

Andy Serkis has been trying to kick off a CGI “Jungle Book” remake for quite a while. The problem is, Disney and John Favreau beat him to it.

It seems that Warner Bros has finally conceded that it’s probably not smart to make a movie that is functionally identical to something Disney put out in 2016. “Mowgli” has been quietly pulled from theaters and sold to Netflix instead.

Netflix has become a convenient dumping ground for any movie that studios worry about. Even though “Mowgli” has plenty of big name stars attached, it seems that Warner questions whether it’ll actually make its money back.

And so, we end up in a scenario in which “Venom” has zero blockbuster competition. Although admittedly, it seems that “Mowgli” wasn’t going to put up much of a fight either way.

The big question is what’s going to happen next.

Taking the Opportunity

If, able to take control of the entire month of August, “Venom” succeeds, then Sony will no doubt make plenty more of these films. “Silver and Black”, “Silk”, and “Morbius” are already on the slate, but I suspect that Sony is waiting to see how “Venom” does before getting too attached to any of these movies.

Tom Hardy as Eddie Brock
Source: Sony

If, on the other hand, “Venom” fails, it’ll be a mad scramble as everyone at Sony attempts to blame extenuating circumstances for their mistake.

They’ll try to make the excuse that October was a bad time for the release. Of course people were going to prefer indie darling horror flicks over “Venom” at Halloween – it’s all so logical in retrospect!

Thus, the company will attempt to avoid facing the ugly fact that if “Venom” fails, it’s because the studio made a movie that nobody asked for in the first place.

For the record, I have the sneaking suspicion that “Venom” is going to be awful, and I also expect that it’ll fare pretty poorly at the box office.

This is a shame, as I’d really love to see “Silver and Black”. Something tells me that ship may have already sailed either way.

If Warner Bros hadn’t got cold feet over “Mowgli”, then Sony could easily blame this movie if “Venom” underperforms.

Or, if I’m wrong and “Venom” is the hot film of the Halloween season, you can thank Jon Favreau for making it happen.

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