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Sorry, Sony: ‘Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle’ Is Not Your Studio’s Biggest Hit

Sony says "Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle" is the studio's biggest domestic film ever. In reality, it doesn't make the top 10.

Jumanji

“Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle”

With $403.7 million as of April 11, Sony declared “Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle” is its biggest-ever domestic hit, passing the figure “Spider-Man” achieved in its 2002 run. Of course, this is complete nonsense.

Assessing box office without adjustment is like the Labor Dept. calculating the consumer price index without correcting for inflation. Today’s average ticket price bears no resemblance to those of prior decades. And, unlike books and downloads, which track not the price tag but the units sold, North American movies sales are calculated solely by revenue. European cinemas track both admissions and ticket sales, presumably to avoid this problem. The North American system leads to a lot of skewed figures, and announcements like Sony’s.

None of this should diminish the unexpectedly strong response to the “Jumani” sequel. The reboot of the very strong 1995 Robin Williams-starrer doubled the most optimistic expectations with its Christmas release (worldwide, $951 million). The film had a big assist with Dwayne Johnson in the lead, making the case for his status as the biggest draw among movie stars these days (one that will be tested this weekend with “Rampage,” his Warner Bros. action-adventure).

There’s another consideration beyond ticket sales. Sony Pictures is the continuation of Columbia, a studio founded by Harry Cohn 94 years ago and one that encompasses Screen Gems, faith label Affirm Films, the revamped TriStar, and the now-retired Triumph Releasing. Its biggest hits stretch back to 1954, and include some of the most storied titles in film history.

These are the 10 top-grossing domestic titles in Columbia/Sony’s history, adjusted to 2018 ticket prices.

Rank Title and Year Adjusted Gross
1. Ghostbusters (1984) $653.4 million
2. Spider-Man (2002) $637.9 million
3. Spider-Man 2 (2004) $552.3 million
4. Tootsie (1982) $522.4 million
5. Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977) $513.4 million
6. Lawrence of Arabia (1962) $508.4 million
7. Men in Black (1997) $501.4 million
8. Bridge on the River Kwai (1957) $499.4 million
9. Spider-Man 3 (2007) $449.0 million
10.  The Caine Mutiny (1954) $407.5 million
11. Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle (2017) $403.7 million

 

“Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle” sold more tickets than “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner,” “Kramer vs. Kramer,” “Funny Girl,” and more recently, the four Sony-released James Bond titles, which are led by “Skyfall.” That puts it in very rarefied territory, but it’s far from being Sony’s biggest hit.

As context: In adjusted figures, “Black Panther” has now made over $666 million, selling more tickets than any film Sony or Columbia ever released. The massive Marvel smash, one of the most impressive box office achievements ever, now ranks #34 on the all-time ticket sales chart, and will go on to the top 30.

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