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“Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle” (Sony) easily bested all comers on its fourth weekend, and sustained the 2018 box office upswing. The shockingly successful reboot is just $50 million away from landing in the top-five grossers of 2017. A $350-million total won’t come near to challenging the $600 million-plus final tally for “Star Wars: The Last Jedi,” which is 2017’s top performer both domestic and globally, with a worldwide total of over $1.3 billion.
A weekend result that puts the Dwayne Johnson family fantasy $15-million ahead of the latest “Star Wars” juggernaut suggests the days may be waning for “Star Wars” as the dominant franchise far above all the rest. For the first time, its fifth weekend fell below the comparable “Rogue One” last year.
And yet overall grosses are up — if not at the level of last week’s 20 per cent increase. This weekend’s overall results are close to a carbon copy of last year’s Martin Luther King Day holiday.
Studios often avoid platforming their titles except for rare occasions. But they have in recent years positioned possible awards contenders at Christmas to widen in mid-January ahead of nominations. Warner Bros. succeeded this way with two Clint Eastwood titles, “Gran Torino” and “American Sniper,” that at any other time of the year would have initially gone wide. 20th Century Fox has now played this card for three straight years with “The Revenant,” “Hidden Figures” and now Steven Spielberg’s “The Post.”
Courtesy of 20th Century Fox
The retelling of the 1971 Pentagon Papers release is the least obvious wide-audience success among this group (though a cast led by Meryl Streep and Tom Hanks brings intense interest from older audiences), and its initial nationwide gross of $18.6 million places it somewhat behind the other titles. But it justifies Fox’s strategy. The result is about $3 million ahead of the opening of “Bridge of Spies,” Spielberg’s last historical drama (an October release). That film ended up with a $72-million total, unaided until very late in its run by awards.
The three debuts this week all fell lower, with typical Martin Luther King Day weekend releases following a usual pattern. “The Commuter” (Lionsgate) with Liam Neeson returning as an older action hero grossed the same $13 million as the routine horror entry “Bye Bye Man” last year. “Paddington 2” (which Warners picked up from the Weinsteins after that company’s implosion), tracked about the same as family movie “Monster Trucks” last year. Genre entry “Proud Mary” starring Tarija P. Henson was timed for the MLK weekend, much like Jamie Foxx vehicle “Sleepless” served last year. And the grosses all fell just about the same.
That’s a bit of a let-down, as Neeson’s titles beginning with “Taken” have scored much better in the past. Three years ago at the same time the original “Paddington”opened to $19 million, compared to under $11 this time (despite rave reviews), and “Proud Mary” had only a small improvement over the minor “Sleepless.”
So credit the box office improvement to holdovers “Jumanji” and “The Greatest Showman” (20th Century Fox), which took only a 14 per cent drop. It’s at $94 million, with considerable growth ahead.
The stunning reviews for “Paddington” failed to penetrate the family audience that is still flocking to see “Jumanji” and “Showman.” And the more-discerning moviegoer is still distracted by high-end Oscar fare like “The Post,” “Darkest Hour,” “Molly’s Game, “I, Tonya,” “Three Billboards Outside of Ebbing, Missouri,” “The Shape of Water,” “Lady Bird” and “Phantom Thread.”
Last week’s #2 , horror entry “Insidious: The Last Key” (Universal), fell a standard steep 59 per cent. With a worldwide total likely to surpass $150 million, Blumhouse Productions continues to be a steady performer even with routine films. (This $10 million production might not have the prestige of their early year entries “Get Out” and “Split” last year, but scoring with a stale franchise is no automatic achievement.)
Last year saw five films open to over $30 million from mid-January through the end of February. This year has a one entry — the Marvel “Black Panther –” likely to perform far better. A seven per cent increase so far is a good start, but the box office will be harder to sustain after Christmas films stop pumping up the totals.
The Top Ten
1. Jumanji – Welcome to the Jungle (Sony) Week 4; Last weekend #1
$27,035,000 (-27%) in 3,849 theaters (+48); PTA (per theater average): $7,024; Cumulative: $282,171,000
2. The Post (20th Century Fox) Week 4; Last weekend #15
$18,600,000 (+995%) in 2,819 theaters (+2,783); PTA: $6,598; Cumulative: $23,089,000
3. The Commuter (Lionsgate) NEW – Cinemascore: B; Metacritic: 56; est. budget: $30 million
$13,450,000 in 2,892 theaters; PTA: $4,651; Cumulative: $13,450,000
4. Insidious: The Last Key (Universal) Week 2; Last weekend #2
$12,135,000 (-59%) in 3,150 theaters (+34); PTA: $3,852; Cumulative: $48,375,000
5. The Greatest Showman (20th Century Fox) Week 4; Last weekend #4
$11,800,000 (-14%) in 2,938 theaters (-404); PTA: $4,016; Cumulative: $94,554,000
6. Star Wars: The Last Jedi (Disney) Week 5; Last weekend #3
$11,275,000 (-52%) in 3,090 theaters (-1,142); PTA: $3,649; Cumulative: $591,550,000
7. Paddington 2 (Warner Bros.) NEW – Cinemascore: A; Metacritic: 89; est. budget: $50 million
$10,620,000 in 3,702 theaters; PTA: $2,869; Cumulative: $10,620,000
8. Proud Mary (Sony) NEW – Cinemascore: B+; Metacritic: 35; est. budget: $30 million
$10,000,000 in 2,125 theaters; PTA: $4,706; Cumulative: $10,000,000
9. Pitch Perfect 3 (Universal) Week 4; Last weekend #5
$5,655,000 (-45%) in 2,505 theaters (-953); PTA: $2,257; Cumulative: $94,651,000
10. Darkest Hour (Focus) Week 8; Last weekend #8
$4,525,000 (-25%) in 1,683 theaters (-40); PTA: $2,673; Cumulative: $35,738,000