Box Office: JUMANJI: THE NEXT LEVEL exceeds expectations with $60 million opening

Welcome to the Beat’s Weekend Box Office Recap!

The box office seems to be back on track as Sony Pictures had its second biggest hit of the year with the release of the sequel, Jumanji: The Next Level, this weekend. Reuniting Dwayne JohnsonKevin HartJack Black and Karen Gillan, the family adventure comedy brought on a new character played by Awkwafina from Crazy Rich Asians with Nick Jonas in a bigger role.  Sony opened the movie in 4,227 theaters, and after Thursday previews of $4.7 million, it grossed an estimated $60.1 million in its opening weekend.

That’s quite a bit more than many of the projections last week, including my own, as audiences wanted to see more of the characters and premise after the success of the 2017 movie, Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle. That movie grossed over $400 million domestically after a pre-Christmas opening of $52.8 million in its first five days, although that one also opened in the second weekend of Star Wars: The Last Jedi rather than coming out first.

Jumanji: The Next Level actually got a headstart last weekend in overseas markets where it made $52.5 million, including a rather weak showing in China. It made another $85.7 million internationally this weekend, opening in the UK with $12.6 million and making $8.9 million in Russia. Including its domestic opening, Jumanji: The Next Level has grossed $212.6 million globally in two weeks, and it should continue to do big business over the holidays.

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Frozen II dropped to second place after three weeks at #1, down 46% to $19.2 million, bringing its domestic total to $366.5 million. Disney’s animated sequel also passed the one billion mark worldwide this weekend, making it six movies to do so for a studio that has already crossed $10 billion worldwide this year even, before next week’s “Star Wars” installment.

Rian Johnson‘s ensemble comedy Knives Out (Lionsgate) took third place with $9.2 million (down 35%) with a North American total of $78.9 million, having passed the domestic gross of Johnson’s sci-fi film Looper earlier in the week.

The other two new movies, Clint Eastwood‘s Richard Jewell and Universal’s horror remake Black Christmas, did quite a bit worse than expected, both outright bombing with less than half what many projected.

Eastwood’s film starred Paul Walter Hauser as the Atlanta security guard who spotted a suspicious package at the 1998 Summer Olympics in Atlanta and ended up being accused of planting a bomb. Co-starring Sam RockwellJon HammKathy Bates, and Olivia Wilde, it opened in 2,502 theaters on Friday where it grossed an estimated $5 million or less than $2,000 per theater.  That was Eastwood’s worst opening since the 2006 Japanese language war film Letters from Iwo Jima, although that never played in nearly as many theaters. Although Eastwood’s movie was being raked across the coals for its portrayal of Atlanta journalist Cathy Skruggs (Wilde’s character), it received semi-decent reviews, and an “A” CinemaScore from audiences, so it might be able to pick up business after Christmas if it gets further into the awards conversation.

Universal and Blumhouse teamed on a remake of Black Christmas, which opened in 2,652 theaters this weekend, but failed to get much interest with an opening weekend of just $4.4 million. Directed by Sophia Takal and starring Imogen PootsBlack Christmas didn’t receive nearly as many good reviews as Richard Jewell, and its “D+” CinemaScore from audiences who did see it is absolutely horrendous, so it might not make much more progress.  Reportedly, it only cost $5 million to make, so it shouldn’t be too big a loss.

James Mangold‘s Ford v Ferrari took sixth place with $4.1 million, down 38%, as it edges closer to $100 million domestic with $98.3 million and with another $86.4 million overseas. It may have gotten a little awards boost last week as Christian Bale received nominations from the Golden Globes and Screen Actors Guild.

Universal’s Queen and Slim and Sony/Tristar’s A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood followed with $3.6 and $3.4 million, respectivley, neither of them having made big waves in their late fall releases.

The Safdie Brothers‘ new genre-twisting movie Uncut Gems, starring Adam Sandler, the comedian’s first non-animated theatrical release in some time, was given a platform release by A24 in five theaters in select cities where it took in $525,000 or more than $105,000 per theater, which is the second best for a movie this year after Bong Joon-Ho‘s Parasite.

Lionsgate’s Fox News scandal movie Bombshell, starring Charlize TheronNicole Kidman, Margot Robbie and John Lithgowopened in four theaters in New York and L.A. Friday in advance of its nationwide expansion this coming Friday. It made $312,000 or $78,000 per theatre, which is a pretty good start, although we’ll have to see how it fares as counter-programming to two much bigger movies next Friday.

This Week’s Top 10: 

Rank Last Week Rank Movie Studio Weekend Gross % Change Total Gross
1 New Jumanji: The Next Level Sony $60.1 million N/A $60.1 million
2 1 Frozen 2 Walt Disney $19.2 million -46% $366.5 million
3 2 Knives Out Lionsgate $9.3 million -35% $78.9 million
4 New Richard Jewell Warner Bros. $5 million N/A $5 million
5 New Black Christmas Universal $4.4 million N/A $4.4 million
6 3 Ford v. Ferrari 20th Century Fox $4.1 million -38% $98.2 million
7 4 Queen and Slim Universal $3.6 million -46% $33.2 million
8 5 A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood Sony/Tristar $3.4 million -36% $49.3 million
9 6 Dark Waters Focus Features $2 million -50% $8.9 million
10 7 21 Bridges STXfilms $1.2 million  -59% $26.4 million

Last year this weekend, Sony Pictures also had the #1 movie with the animated Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, which opened with $35.4 million, but Eastwood had much better luck with his crime-drama The Mule, in which he also starred. That took second place with $17.5 million. Universal also had the big bomb of the weekend with the Peter Jackson-produced Mortal Engines, but that still did better than Black Christmas with $7.6 million. The top 10 grossed $101 million, which is roughly $12 million less than this past weekend’s top 10.

Check back on Wednesday for next week’s Box Office Preview, which is all about Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker and the musical Cats.

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