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411 Box Office Report: Jumanji: The Next Level Explodes For #1 Start

December 15, 2019 | Posted by Jeremy Thomas
Jumanji: The Next Level

Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson has dominated the box office once again, as Jumanji: The Next Level opened big to claim the top spot this weekend. The adventure-comedy sequel scored a huge $60.1 million opening weekend to top the charts, exceeding its $45 million to $50 million expectation in a big way. That marks a start that is over double the $29 million three-day opening of Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle, which opened during a five-day Christmas weekend that totaled $52.8 million.

It’s a big win for Sony and the ensemble franchise, carried on the back of positive impressions of the first film plus a strong marketing campaign. Johnson is one of the most engaged movie stars out there and uses his social media to promote his films quite effectively, which complemented the media blitz well. Add in Karen Gillen, Jack Black, Kevin Hart, and Nick Jonas, and you have a franchise with something for just about everyone and a massive potential fanbase. The start was buoyed by solid (if not great) reviews at a 66% Rotten Tomatoes consensus, which is strong enough not to warn anyone away from it. The film has strong business throughout the weekend, with a solid 20% bounce for Saturday thanks to the family crowd and a drop of just 27% for Sunday.

The question now, of course, is how much further it can climb. The last Jumanji had those holiday box office legs that always translate into great grosses, and this one could do quite well too. While it’s up against a behemoth in Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker next weekend, it must be noted that Welcome to the Jungle opened against Star Wars: The Last Jedi and did just fine. The Next Level may not hit its predecessor’s $404.5 million domestically, but it doesn’t have to. It should still make it up the $325 mark at least. The film has added a total of $152.5 million internationally so far for $212.6 million against a $130 million budget. This is another hit for Sony, guaranteed.

Jumanji stole just a bit of Frozen II’s thunder, with the Disney animated film slipping 45% to $19.2 million in its fourth weekend. That puts the animated film at $366.5 million domestically and $1.032 billion worldwide, the sixth Disney billion-dollar film of 2019. Frozen II is still on course for a good $425 million domestically, massive against a $150 million budget.

Knives Out continues to perform well, as the whodunit raked in another $9.3 million. That’s a 35% drop, which is quite good. The Rian Johnson-directed ensemble film is now up to $78.9 million domestically and is really starting to take off overseas with $142.5 million worldwide, all on a budget of $40 million. It is still looking at a final domestic gross above $100 million.

Sputtering out at #4 is Clint Eastwood’s latest film, as Richard Jewell only managed to chalk up $5 million. That’s half of what the docudrama was expected to bring in, and reps the lowest start for an Eastwood-directed film since Bronco Billy all the way back in 1980. That’s not what Warner Bros. was hoping for for this film, to say the least.

Analysts are going to be busy dissecting this failure. Richard Jewell was a decently well-liked film with critics (73% RT score) and word of mouth is strong, with an A CinemaScore. The answer is that there just wasn’t a demand for the film. Not many people were demanding a film about the story of a man falsely accused of being a bomber 23 years ago, and Eastwood’s presence was only behind the camera so it was a bit harder for Warner Bros. to market this one. Eastwood was making a film similar to his 2016 hit Sully about an unsung hero, but that real-life event was more recent in people’s memory and starred a marquee name in Tom Hanks.

All of this ultimately added up to a film that’s going to fall short. The holiday season will help, to be sure, but overseas grosses will not; this is a uniquely American story and those don’t generally play as well internationally with rare exceptions. Richard Jewell could conceivably make it as high as $40 million, but that won’t be enough for profit against a $45 million budget unless overseas numbers massively exceed expectations.

Another one that fell way short, albeit on a much safer scale, was Black Christmas. The latest remake of the 1974 holiday horror classic posted a $4.4 million weekend, well below its expected $10 million take. By comparison, recent low-profile horror film Countdown managed $8.9 million, so this is not a good start by any way you look at it.

Much like Richard Jewell, there were a lot of things going wrong here. First off, no one wanted another Black Christmas remake. The first remake was a box office disappointment in 2006, and it was folly to think a 2019 version would fare much better in any circumstance. Then we have to look at the marketing, which was atrocious. The trailer literally gave the vast majority of the plot away, giving those who were potentially curious no reason to check it out.

Some people are going to point at the way that the film was presented as “fiercely feminist” as a reason for its failure, but that isn’t a factor any more than Richard Jewell’s performance can be blamed on its political sensibilities (which garnered its own political controversy for its handling of Olivia Wilde’s character). Political or social statements in film can be a hook for box office prospects, but the films have to be good and marketable. Neither film succeeded in the second part of that equation, and Black Christmas also failed on the first part with a 44% RT consensus and a truly lousy D+ CinemaScore.

The good news for Blumhouse and Universal is that Black Christmas had the low budget typical of Blumhouse productions, so the holiday season might actually be able to save it to some degree. It could make it as high as $20 million if things shake out just right, as there are few films targeting the same crowd. On a $7.5 million budget plus marketing that won’t be enough for profit, and the $3.1 million start overseas isn’t great, but it might at least not lose Universal too much.

Ford v Ferrari was off 38% in its fifth weekend to $4.1 million. The racing drama has now reached $98.2 million domestically and $184.6 million worldwide. The nominations of Christian Bale for SAG and Golden Globe Awards could mean good things for this film as it tries to push its totals as high as possible. A final domestic run around $115 million still makes sense, and this is going to be a mildly profitable film against a $97 million budget.

Crime drama Queen & Slim slipped 46% in its third weekend with $3.6 million. The Universal film is doing fine, with $33.2 million domestically against a $20 million budget and a lighter marketing budget. It looks likely to finish at around $40 million, which will meet expectations.

A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood was down an okay 35% in its fourth weekend with $3.4 million, bringing its total of $49.3 million. That’s right were Tri-Star wants it. The film cost $25 million and will end up being slightly profitable for its studio.

Mark Ruffalo’s Dark Waters faded 50% in its second weekend with $2 million, a bad hold for a film that started out quietly. The docudrama now sits at just $8.9 million domestically and $9 million worldwide, not great numbers. It should be able to make it to around $15 million, but that will not likely be enough for a profit.

21 Bridges closed out the top ten with $1.2 million, down 58% in its fourth weekend. The action-thriller is now at $26.4 million domestically and $35.5 million worldwide against a $33 million budget. The domestic final still looks to be around $30 million.

Next weekend is all about Star Wars, as The Rise of Skywalker closes the Saga out to the tune of $200 million-plus. Also opening is the live-action adaptation of Broadway musical Cats, targeting $10 million to $12 million, and the wide release of the Fox News sexual harassment docudrama Bombshell which should start at around $7 million.

BOX OFFICE TOP TEN (Three-Day Domestic Numbers)
1. Jumanji: The Next Level – $60.1 million ($60.1 million total)
2. Frozen II – $19.2 million ($366.5 million total)
3. Knives Out – $9.3 million ($78.9 million total)
4. Richard Jewell – $5 million ($5 million total)
5. Black Christmas – $4.4 million ($4.4 million total)
6. Ford v Ferrari – $4.1 million ($98.2 million total)
7. Queen & Slim – $3.6 million ($33.2 million total)
8. A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood – $3.4 million ($49.3 million total)
9. Dark Waters – $2 million ($8.9 million total)
10. 21 Bridges – $1.2 million ($26.4 million total)