In its third week, “Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle” (Sony) surged to the top spot at the New Year’s weekend box office, after pulling ahead of “Star Wars: The Last Jedi” (Disney) for the full week that included New Year’s Day — so its dominant position this weekend was no surprise. “Insidious: The Last Key” (Universal) performed well in the usual post-holiday horror film slot, though not at the high end for past performers. In third place, “The Last Jedi” remains a major success, looking at a certain worldwide total of over $1.3 billion.
All these and more contributed to a first post-New Year weekend of 2018 that is some $25 million — or 16 per cent — better than the last year. It’s a robust start for the box office, which wound up the year above expectations, taking pressure off a mediocre 2017 performance.
The “Jumanji” success makes sense: the sequel captured the family market at the best possible time, gaining strong positive reaction from core moviegoing audiences, especially particularly the always reliable minority segment. Dwayne Johnson was a perfect draw, the mid-week pre-Christmas opening fueled word of mouth, and by Christmas Day it was ready to start closing in on the already well-sampled “The Last Jedi.”
“Jumanji” replicated the tried-and-true “Night of the Museum” formula. The first (biggest) of the three films in that franchise grossed an adjusted $331 million in 2006. “Jumanji” now looks like it might come close to equaling that, which would be about double even high-end expectations. Its strong post-holiday numbers show that it could have multiple weeks of life still to come.
Though third, “The Last Jedi” still managed a gross higher for its fourth weekend than “Rogue One” had last year. For the third annual entry in the franchise, that’s a solid achievement. It seems a disappointment only if one over-estimated the ability for each new film in the series to sustain equal excitement. Is there a risk that Disney is overplaying their hand, with some creative choices not universally embraced? Sure.
But “The Last Jedi” is going to end up substantially better than “Rogue One” both in domestic and foreign returns. It is already by some distance the biggest-grossing 2017 domestic release, and will soon be the biggest combined worldwide. Denying its success is carping with an agenda, not facing the reality of massive popularity for the film.
“Insidious: The Last Key” had a strong initial response, while not at the highest level of the early-year horror releases. The date has been favorable to some — the barely remembered “The Devil Inside” six years ago managed an adjusted $38 million on the same date. And last year Blumhouse, also producers of “Insidious,” opened “Split” slightly later to $40 million.
The just-under $30 million “Insidious” total is great for its $10 million cost; it ranks second in the four-film franchise. It was about a third better than the previous entry, which is an impressive comeback. It helps that there has been little horror action since “Jigsaw” at Halloween, but it also arrived when there was plenty of holiday holdover competition.
Yes, sequels and old formulas are again dominating the box office after a year that demonstrated the domestic rebound of commercially viable non-franchise films and more diversity in front and behind the camera. Hopefully there will continue to be room for both.
One standalone success that continues to surprise is “The Greatest Showman” (20th Century Fox). This unexpected musical sleeper dropped only 11 per cent, held on to fourth spot, and is on its way to $100 million at home, with an equal or better international performance possibly bringing it into unexpected profitable territory. This is a real coup for Hugh Jackman.
The rest of the top holdover films experienced normal drops, with “Pitch Perfect 3” (Universal) and two animated titles — “Ferdinand” (20th Century Fox) and “Coco” (Disney) — all extending decent holiday runs. “Coco” has been a disappointment for Pixar, falling further short of “Moana” last year with every passing week. “All the Money in the World” (Sony) held on in tenth with no sign of recovering from its weak start.
The rest of the top titles are specialty fare: “Molly’s Game” (STX) expanded credibly and “Darkest Hour” (Focus) continued strong. More on these and other related titles in our independent film report.
The Top Ten
1. Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle (Sony) Week 3; Last weekend #2
$36,000,000 (-28%) in 3,801 theaters (+36); PTA (per theater allowance): $9,471; Cumulative: $244,373,000
2. Insidious: The Last Key (Universal) – Cinemascore: B-; Metacritic: 49; est. budget: $10 million
$29,265,000 in 3,116 theaters; PTA: $9,392; Cumulative: $29,265,000
3. Star Wars: The Last Jedi (Disney) Week 4; Last weekend #1
$23,551,000 (-55%) in 4,232 theaters (no change); PTA: $5,565; Cumulative: $572,514,000
4. The Greatest Showman (20th Century Fox) Week 3; Last weekend #4
$13,800,000 (-11%) in 3,342 theaters (+26); PTA: $4,129; Cumulative: $75,904,000
5. Pitch Perfect 3 (Universal) Week 3; Last weekend #3
$10,225,000 (-39%) in 3,458 theaters (-10); PTA: $4,129; Cumulative: $85,984,000
6. Ferdinand (20th Century Fox) Week 4; Last weekend #5
$7,730,000 (-32%) in 3,156 theaters (-181); PTA: $2,449; Cumulative: $70,499,000
7. Molly’s Game (STX) Week 2; Last weekend #13
$7,000,000 (+198%) in 1,608 theaters (+1,337); PTA: $4,353; Cumulative: $14,217,000
8. The Darkest Hour (Focus) Week 7; Last weekend #8
$6,355,000 (+17%) in 1,733 theaters (+790); PTA: $3,667; Cumulative: $28,393,000
9. Coco (Disney) Week 7; Last weekend #6
$5,539,000 (-26%) in 1,894 theaters (-210); PTA: $2,924; Cumulative: $192,082,000
10. All the Money in the World (Sony) Week 2; Last weekend #7
$3,550,000 (-36%) in 2,123 theaters (+49); PTA: $1,672; Cumulative: $20,132,000