Whenever a new Star Wars movie comes out, it has the tendency to absorb all the movie chatter in the room for at least a month after its release. That’s especially the case for The Last Jedi, which has proven to be a rather decisive (and very much conversation worthy) installment of the series. You don’t have to tell me that, after all.
But, believe it or not, the rest of the film industry just doesn’t seize to exist when a Star Wars movie comes out. Other studios still release things, even more so around Christmas time. It’s just that, usually, Star Wars steamrolls everything else at the box office, to the point that competitors feel like a mere foot note.
…Except not this year. Don’t get me wrong: The Last Jedi still did insanely well at the box office ($600 million ain’t nothing to sneeze at), but this time around, the Mouse House found itself with a worthy, surprising challenger: Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle.
The action comedy sequel to the 90’s original was always destined for success, in some part. The pairing of Kevin Hart and Dwayne Johnson is one that most audiences seem to love (also see Central Intelligence), and the added star power of Jack Black and Karen Gillan couldn’t hurt things either. Paired with nostalgia brewing for the Robin Williams led original, and some surprisingly strong reviews, and seeing Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle do while at the box office wasn’t really a shocker to me. But even then…damn. This movie is doing far better than I, and I expect most others, ever expected it too.
I thought Jumanji would end up grossing somewhere in the $150 million to $220 million range, especially considering the competition from The Last Jedi opening only a week before (not to mention added pressure from The Greatest Showman, Pitch Perfect 3, All the Money in the World, and a litany of expanding Oscar hopefuls.) But man oh man, has Jumanji proven to be a huge box office smash. At this point, the film stands at a total of $320 million which, for the record, makes it the 7th highest grossing film released in 2017. And with its box office run far from over, the film will probably move up a few spots on that list too.
The legs on this film are actually pretty damn insane, after all — not only did it GAIN week-to-week during the holidays, but the lowest weekend drop it has had since is a mere 30.6%. By comparison, The Last Jedi has dropped by 40%-60% most weekends…which is still plenty to get it over $600 million, but doesn’t quite represent the same legs that The Force Awakens had to get its way to $900 million domestically. Instead, Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle took those legs, which is quite the shock.
And that’s not the only achievement of note for the film. In particular, Sony should be quite happy. The studio has been desperate for a non-Spider-Man hit for quite a while now, and has been rotating through seemingly every IP it has the rights to in an attempt to get another big blockbuster franchise going. Ghostbusters failed and The Dark Tower failed and RoboCop failed…but, somehow, Jumanji succeeded. And didn’t just moderately succeed either — the film currently stands as Sony’s fifth highest grossing film OF ALL TIME, only behind the original Spider-Man trilogy and Spider-Man: Homecoming. Sony has another big franchise now, and you bet they are going to capitalize on that — a sequel to the film is already eyeing a 2019 release.
But, for now, I just really have to complement the success of Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle. While I didn’t love the movie, it was a surprisingly fun time at the movie theater, and I certainly see why it has garnered the success it has. And even if I didn’t like the film, just based purely on expectations, it’s hard not to feel impressed at what success the movie has garnered. Clearly, something went right here, and it wasn’t just Kevin Hart and Dwayne Johnson.
Though they certainly didn’t hurt things either.
Also published on Medium.