‘Jumanji’ Succeeds at Box Office
Posted December 24, 2017 3:05 p.m. EST
LOS ANGELES — The Christmas weekend box office wrapped up the state of moviegoing in a tidy bow: Flashy franchise films prospered, while original movies reliant on star power struggled to get noticed.
“Star Wars: The Last Jedi” (Disney) was the No. 1 movie at North American theaters, as expected, collecting an estimated $68.5 million between Friday and Sunday, for a two-week domestic total of $365.1 million, according to comScore, which compiles box office data. Disney projected that “The Last Jedi” would take in an additional $32.2 million on Christmas Day, one of the busiest moviegoing moments of the year.
Disney said Sunday that “The Last Jedi” has taken in roughly $380 million in overseas release. The movie will be released Jan. 5 in China, the world’s second-biggest theatrical market behind North America.
For the weekend in the United States and Canada, the second most-attended film was “Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle” (Sony), a sequel to the 1995 movie starring Robin Williams. Featuring Dwayne Johnson and Kevin Hart, “Welcome to the Jungle” collected an estimated $34 million, for a total since arriving Wednesday of $50.6 million.
By the end of Christmas Day, “Welcome to the Jungle” would have taken in about $64 million, according to Sony projections. That could put this movie on a course to collect $180 million or more over its domestic run, a strong total that (depending on interest overseas, where early returns appear encouraging, analysts said) could turn “Jumanji” into an ongoing series for the studio — the Hollywood equivalent of pay dirt.
“I see an incredible amount of momentum for this film as we head into one of the biggest moviegoing weeks of the year,” Adrian Smith, Sony’s president of domestic distribution, said by phone. “You want a big event film that can stand on its own in a crowded marketplace, and that is what our filmmakers delivered.”
“Welcome to the Jungle,” an action comedy about teenagers who find themselves trapped inside a video game, received mostly positive reviews from critics, and ticket buyers gave it an A-minus grade in CinemaScore exit polls, boding well for word-of-mouth. Sony spent at least $90 million to produce the movie, after accounting for tax credits and not including significant marketing costs.
Arriving in third place was “Pitch Perfect 3” (Universal), which sold about $20.5 million in tickets. Paul Dergarabedian, a comScore box office analyst, called that total a “strong performance,” especially considering relatively inexpensive production costs. Universal spent an estimated $45 million to produce the comedy, about an all-female a cappella troupe. Reviews were not kind, but ticket buyers — 69 percent of whom were female — gave the movie an A-minus grade in CinemaScore exit polls.
In contrast, an original musical, “The Greatest Showman” (20th Century Fox), arrived on a muted note, collecting about $8.6 million between Friday and Sunday, for a total since its Wednesday release of $13.2 million, below analyst expectations. Christmas ticket sales could add $5 million, according to comScore.
Fox had hoped that a mix of stars, including Hugh Jackman, Michelle Williams, Zac Efron and Zendaya, could help “The Greatest Showman” win over ticket buyers who might be reluctant to see an original musical. With the help of Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling, “La La Land” did it last year. “The Greatest Showman,” which cost a hefty $84 million to produce, even features songs by Benj Pasek and Justin Paul, the duo who won an Oscar for their contribution to “La La Land.”
But unlike that musical, “The Greatest Showman” underwhelmed critics, likely hurting turnout among older women, the film’s target audience. It did receive an A grade from CinemaScore, however. Two other new films bombed in wide release. The social satire “Downsizing” (Paramount), starring Matt Damon as a man who lives in a world where people can shrink themselves to live in environmentally friendly micro-communities, arrived to about $4.6 million in ticket sales between Friday and Sunday. “Downsizing,” directed and co-written by the Oscar-winning Alexander Payne (“The Descendants”), cost $68 million to make, an eye-popping amount for an art house-minded film.
It received weak reviews and a C grade from CinemaScore.
Damon has been on a box office cold streak — his last two films were “Suburbicon” and “The Great Wall,” both misfires — and made comments about sexual harassment while promoting “Downsizing” that prompted a backlash. He also did not appear at the premiere for “Downsizing,” citing a family illness.
Finally, the poorly reviewed comedy “Father Figures” (Warner Bros.), starring Owen Wilson, Glenn Close and Ed Helms, collected about $3.2 million. It cost Alcon Entertainment about $25 million to make.