Box Office Report: “Jumanji” Wins the Sequel Game

Jumanji Jack Black, Kevin Hart, Dwayne Johnson & Karen Gillan in "Jumanji: The Next Level" (Sony Pictures)

Despite a weak year for sequels, audiences are willing to play another round with the Rock and friends.

Considering that a number of high-profile 2019 sequels have managed to come up short at the box office, it was reasonable, prior to this weekend, to wonder if Jumanji: The Next Level would be the next of these underperformers. Like Frozen II, though, the newest Jumanji movie proved audiences will still go for a sequel if it’s actually enticing looking. Jumanji: The Next Level ended up opening to $60.1 million, the thirteenth biggest December opening weekend in history. It’s also the eleventh biggest opening weekend for a 2019 feature while the three-day bow of The Next Level is an impressive 15% increase over the five-day launch of its predecessor

Opening in between Frozen II and a new Star Wars movie would seemingly give Jumanji little wiggle room in the marketplace, but if any movie could manage to excel while being sandwiched in between those box office titans, it’s the sequel to a word-of-mouth sleeper sensation like Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle. Audiences kept flocking to that movie for months on end and that positive buzz meant a sequel was perceived by the public as a welcome addition rather than a cash grab. Rampant marketing full of memorable comedic moments also didn’t hurt. It’s hard to say how high Jumanji: The Next Level will go in its domestic run but December releases opening this big always hold well. At the very least it’ll get to $240 million domestically and it’s easy to see it getting much higher.

In second place was Frozen II, which felt the heat of Jumanji by falling 45% for a fourth-weekend gross of $19.1 million and a $366.5 million domestic gross while its worldwide box office gross soared past $1 billion. Behind that animated holdover was Knives Out, which dipped 35% (the smallest weekend-to-weekend drop in the top ten) to snoop out another $9.2 million. The newest Rian Johnson motion picture has now amassed $78.9 million domestically.

Clint Eastwood’s recent box office hot streak came to an abrupt end this weekend with Richard Jewell, which opened to an anemic $5 million. True, December is usually the time when movies with tiny opening weekends leg it out over the long haul but that usually applies to movies opening directly over Christmas weekend, not two weekends prior. When it comes to December movies with small openings, Richard Jewell is less of a Greatest Showman and more of a Collateral Beauty. The latter title (like Richard Jewell, it was a mid-December drama from Warner Bros.), opened to $7.1 million but could only get to $31 million domestically. If Jewell has similar legs, it’ll get to only $22 million domestically and that’s a charitable projection.

Rounding out the top five was fellow struggling newcomer Black Christmas, the rare Universal/Blumhouse title that outright wiped out at the domestic box office with only a $4.4 million bow. Despite being the only horror title in the domestic marketplace and a Friday the 13th release date, Black Christmas struggled due to, among other factors, generic marketing. The promotional materials especially struggled to sell why this particular horror title was tied in the holiday season. For something like Krampus, the marketing made the Christmas connection obvious, but the Christmas setting seemed incidental in the trailers for Black Christmas whcih tended to emphasize some kind of frat cult hunting down sorority girls. Black Christmas won’t be lasting long at the domestic box office and could struggle to crack $10 million domestically. At least it cost just $5 million to make.

It was the last ride at the domestic box office for many November 2019 holdovers that will have to turn over their screens to big December 2019 tentpoles next weekend. For now, Ford v. Ferrari dipped another 35% for a fifth-weekend haul of $4.1 million and a domestic total of $98.2 million while Queen & Slim dropped 45% to gross another $3.6 million for a $33.1 million domestic cume. In its fourth weekend of release, A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood dipped 35% to add $3.3 million to its domestic gross that now stands at a solid $49.3 million. In its second weekend of wide release, Dark Waters dropped 50% for another $2 million and a domestic gross of $8.8 million.

Rounding out the top ten was 21 Bridges, which dropped a steep 58% this frame for a fourth-weekend haul of $1.1 million and a lifetime domestic gross of just $26.3 million. Meanwhile, Parasite became only the fourth limited release title of 2019 to crack $20 million domestically with a tenth-weekend gross of $632,500 (a tiny 10% dip from last weekend) for an outstanding domestic gross of $20.3 million. Considering its heavy presence in award season, Parasite is far from finished at the domestic box office even after this weekends impressive feat.

Uncut Gems kicked off its domestic box office run in an impressive fashion this weekend, grossing $525,498 from 5 locations for a per-theater average of $105,099, the second-best per-theater average of 2019 (only Parasite did better). This phenomenal limited release launch indicates a similarly superb domestic box office run for this directorial effort hailing from Josh & Benny Safdie. Impressive box office tracking for the wide release debut of Uncut Gems also seems to be showing that this title will be making plenty of box office bank in the weeks to come.

Jojo Rabbit will become the fifth limited release of 2019 to crack $20 million domestically sometime during this weekend thanks to its newest weekend gross of $375,000 bringing it up to a domestic total of $19.9 million. Bombshell opened in 4 locations this weekend and grossed $312,100 for an extremely impressive per-theater average of $78,025. Lionsgate will be hoping that Bombshell can maintain this box office momentum when it expands into wide release on Friday.

After its epically abysmal launch last weekend, Playmobil: The Movie plummeted 74% this weekend to gross only $170,000 from 2,337 locations for a staggeringly tiny per-theater average of $72. Finally, A Hidden Life debuted this weekend to an underwhelming $52,000 from 5 locations for a per-theater average of $10,400. Such a grim title with no big-name actors was always gonna face an uphill box office climb and the large amount of buzzy limited release titles in the marketplace did it no additional favors.

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