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“Jumanji” Takes Franchise to “The Next Level” While “Richard Jewell” and “Black Christmas” Struggle

After “Frozen II” scored a third week at the top in an especially slow weekend last week (leading me to take a break from my weekly box office breakdown) it was all but guaranteed that Disney’s animated sequel would fall in it’s fourth weekend as three newcomers challenged for attention prior to the highly anticipated debut of “Star War: The Rise of Skywalker”. Sony, Universal and Warner Brothers were all churning out new films while A24 debuted a potential Oscar contender that gave the studio its biggest debut average ever. Let’s take a look at how the second weekend of December faired and who came out on top in this week’s Box Office Breakdown.

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At the top we have Sony’s “Jumanji: The Next Level”, the third “Jumanji” movie overall and the second in the modern series themed around video game tropes and culture. The previous installment was a massive hit in 2017 and it looks like the sequel is and even bigger hit earning $60.1 million domestically to becoming the 13th largest December opening ever and the largest opening in the month for Sony surpassing “Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle’s” debut. Internationally “The Next Level” continued to succeed with $152.5 million to date bringing its worldwide number to $212.6 million. You can read my review of “Jumanji: The Next Level” by clicking here. “Jumanji’s” success pushed “Frozen II” to second while “Knives Out”, which recently became quite the contender for the Golden Globes, held on to third.

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You have to go to the back end of the top five to find the two other new wide releases of the weekend and both had dismal openings each earning spots on the top 50 worse openings ever list. In fourth was WB’s “Richard Jewell”, another awards season contender directed by Clint Eastwood that, despite decent reviews, only took in $5 million in its opening. Universal had a failure on its hands with the Blumhouse distributed “Black Christmas” remake which many believed was green lit due to critical comments made against the company for a failure to embrace female directors with its films. Sadly, the remake was less than welcomed by viewers as it earned a measly $4.4 million making it the second worst debut for a Blumhouse film released on over 2,000 screens behind only the legendary flop “Jem and the Holograms”. Average critical reviews and horrible viewer scores doomed the film from the start and if you want to know what I though you can read my “Black Christmas” review by clicking here.

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Outside the top five we have a group of holdovers. “Ford v. Ferrari” fell out of the top three, and the top five, for the first time while “Queen & Slim” dropped out of the top five to seventh. “A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood”, “Dark Waters”, and “21 Bridges” rounded out the top ten in eighth through tenth respectively while the newcomers forced “Midway”, “Playing with Fire” and “Last Christmas” out of the top ten. One of the biggest stories of the weekend though was in fourteenth where we find “Uncut Gems”, an A24 release that debuted in five theaters earning $537,242 in the process. The Adam Sandler-led film is being touted as an award season contender with Sandler a favorite for acting nominations at the Academy Awards. The film’s debut ranks as the 26th best opening average of all time when taking into account earnings per theater and in how many theaters it opened. It also marks a studio high per screen opening average.

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“Uncut Gems” will open in more theaters this coming weekend while another limited release movie, the controversial Fox News drama “Bombshell”, will also get a nationwide release. The adaptation of the Broadway musical “Cats” will also hit the big screen in wide release but all of these movies will be chasing, likely unsuccessfully, one monster sequel…”Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker”. The film marks the end of the Skywalker saga of one of the most popular film franchises in history and will no doubt be the champion this time next week. We’ll have to wait until then see just how impressive it’s opening weekend turns out to be.

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