‘Jumanji’ Usurps Box Office Crown From ‘Star Wars’

Dwayne Johnson and Kevin Hart team-up takes down "The Last Jedi."

January 7, 2018 1:20 pm
(From l.) Nick Jonas, Dwayne Johnson, Karen Gillan, Kevin Hart and Jack Black star in JUMANJI: WELCOME TO THE JUNGLE. (SONY)
(From l.) Nick Jonas, Dwayne Johnson, Karen Gillan, Kevin Hart and Jack Black star in JUMANJI: WELCOME TO THE JUNGLE. (SONY)

It may have seemed like a roll of the dice at the time to green-light a sequel to Jumanji more than 22 years after the original Robin Williams cult classic. And to open it just one week after Star Wars: The Last Jedi hit theaters, no less…

Three weeks into its theatrical run, however, that’s proved to be a winning strategy as Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle finally outlasted The Last Jedi to win the weekend at the box office with $36 million. The haul brought Sony’s comedy vehicle for Dwayne Johnson and Kevin Hart to $244.4 million domestically in just its third week.

“Slow and steady wins the race and that’s never been more true than with Jumanji,” ComScore senior box office analyst Paul Dergarabedian told RealClearLife.It was somewhat buried in the noise of the The Last Jedi when it first opened, but it’s been right there all along.

“Holiday audiences have really embraced this film.”

Dergarabedian credits Johnson with carrying a lot of the momentum of the film on the former WWE star’s broad shoulders.

“He really goes on the campaign trail for his movies and this is no exception,” said Dergarabedian. “But it wouldn’t have mattered as much if Jumanji wasn’t also a really good four-quadrant movie.”

This proved a particularly good week for the industry as movie-goers braved the frigid weather gripping much of the country to go to their local theaters in large numbers. The box office is up 18 percent from a year ago at the same time when Hidden Figures and Rogue One: A Star Wars Story ruled the marquees

This weekend, Insidious: the Last Key, the latest installment in the horror franchise, scared up an impressive $29.3 million in its debut, good enough for second place. The Last Jedi, in its fourth weekend, continued to pad Disney coffers with $23.6 million, finishing in third after spending its first three weekends in first place, and bringing its domestic total to $572.5 million.

The movie, though, suffered a disappointingly mediocre opening in China, with $28.7 million over the weekend. That means the middle chapter of the latest Star Wars trilogy ($1.2 billion worldwide to date) won’t come within a Kessel Run of the $2 billion global box office haul of The Force Awakens two years ago.

But this weekend, Jumanji was the true Force at the multiplex and the real story for those who find drama in box office receipts.

“When everyone first heard of a Jumanji reboot everyone was rolling their eyes,” said Dergarabedian, “and now the studio is laughing its way to the bank.”

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