How Sony Took ‘Jumanji’ To ‘The Next Level’ With A $60M+ Opening; ‘Richard Jewell’ & ‘Black Christmas’ Earn Lumps Of Coal – Sunday Final

Jumanji: The Next Level
Hiram Garcia/Sony Pictures

4th Update Sunday AM Final w/chart – After an awesome $23.3M Saturday, Sony’s Jumanji The Next Level has exploded to a $60.1M, far exceeding expectations. That’s the biggest domestic opening for Sony in the month of December, an all-time record opening weekend for a comedy in the month of December, as well as the biggest live-action opening weekend for Kevin Hart and Jack Black, and the biggest opening weekend of all-time for director Jake Kasdan. Wow. Yes, Virginia, people do go to the movies in December before Christmas (and not just Star Wars). It also shows the excitement that audiences have for this star-studded IP; the fact that they would make time for it amid holiday activities. Kids K-12 don’t even begin to holiday vacations until this Friday (at 15% on break) despite close to 60% of all US colleges being off tomorrow.

Now the question becomes, how much does this sequel hold up, and can it emulate the legs of its predecessor, which ended domestic with $404.5M? What’s amazing is that Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle in 2017 stole some of Star Wars: The Last Jedi‘s thunder in regards to pacing, beating the behemoth over the first weekend of 2018 and holding wide in theaters (north of 1,000) for 14 weekends, versus Last Jedi‘s 8 (even though Last Jedi made more money in the US/Canada with $620.1M). Welcome to the Jungle cleared well over $305M in estimated profit after all global home entertainment and post- theatrical downstream revenues.

RelishMix screams joyfully that Jumanji: The Next Level had an exceptional Social Media Universe of 788.4M. The typical Family/Live action movie has an SMU of 154.9M, and the sequel’s followers far exceed the level of Welcome to the Jungle, which had a total reach of 568M by opening weekend. Next Level‘s universe is comprised of 130.4M Facebook fans, 21.9M Facebook video views, 78.7M Twitter followers, an enormous 264.3M YouTube views and 293.1M Instagram followers.

With Dwayne Johnson and Hart together counting well over 377M followers, Sony “capitalized upon the film’s super-social cast” says RelishMix, with the studio “arranging a ton of social support for Next Level‘s take on the storyline. Credit to Sony for wrangling the crew – many of which returned from the 2017 film – and producing entertaining spots the closer opening came.” They were literally everywhere and anywhere including parody sketches, such as a Thanksgiving bit with the cast, a Wedding Crashers takeoff between Johnson and Danny DeVito, and the whole gang singing “Jumanji Bells.” See the latter below which was part of Hulu’s Seasons Streaming:

Also, social media activity was very healthy for Next Level, with a viral video rate of 22:1 to the genre’s average of 13:1. Prior to opening, the average daily YouTube views for Next Level’s top clips were a whopping 84.1K, far ahead of the genre average 15.9K. “And, that’s across multiple clips – not just the videos with support from Sony on this platform,” reports RelishMix.

The Dany Garcia, Hiram Garcia, Johnson, Jake Kasdan, and Matt Tolmach-produced sequel counted global promotional partnerships that were valued at $61M, including such brands as family restaurant Zaxby’s, which brought on Jumanji actor Rhys Darby for a really fun campaign and two TV spots. There was also Uber, see ad below:

In addition, there was Pop Secret, which had a Walmart activation, and the Ad Council. Sony participated in an anti-bullying campaign that highlighted that it’s not just enough not to bully others, but that with kindness, you can actually make someone’s day. Dwayne Johnson did the commercial, which also included outdoor.

In addition to social, there was a ton of custom content, with several cable networks with the cast flaunting their comedy chops:

–Comedy Central vignette in which Johnson and Hart were trained on how to become “seniors” by DeVito and Danny Glover.

Discovery Channel had the cast watch and react to scenes from their iconic survival shows Naked & Afraid, Gold Rush, and Alaska The Last Frontier.

Nickelodeon showcased the film cast competing with one another on who can take things more to the ‘next level.’

–There was a Univision spot in which the characters accidentally drop into a dramatic telenovela, speaking fluent Spanish — except for Hart.

–There was also an ESPN spot where the cast help Kenny Mayne and Neil Everett take SportsCenter to the ‘next level.’

Social media and online partners included a YouTube AR Masthead that immersed users into the various environments of Jumanji: The Next Level. Consumers could then share selfies of themselves surrounded by those environments through their social handles and messaging apps. On Snapchat, there was a global Jumanji gamified National Lens, which dropped users into Jumanji, challenging them to dodge various obstacles to make it through the game. At notable metro locations, such as the Flatiron building in New York City and the Chinese Theater in Los Angeles, users were able to project Snapchat AR experiences onto the building themselves, introducing them to Jumanji animals, as well as desert and jungle locations.

TikTok created the global #JumanjiChallenge on the platform, encouraging the app’s users to participate in the activation. The challenge encouraged TikTok users to transport into the game of Jumanji, by using the custom brand effect created.

Sony also took over Amazon’s homepage a week before release and created a 360 partnership with Amazon and Fandango through a ticketing promotion that lived on Amazon’s site. Another AR experience included the voice-activated which was also a team-up with Amazon. Users via voice command can reveal exclusive content and drop in on three stunning locations from the film.

The Culver City lot sold the film to multicultural audiences on a community level through dedicated screenings in partnership with organizations that included: the Steve & Marjorie Harvey foundation, Boys and Girls Club and YMCA of Atlanta, Project Fly LA, and The African American Film Critics Association. There were also tastemaker screenings of Next Level for the Los Angeles Lakers, Denver Broncos, and MMA Fighter Roy Nelson.

Sony also worked with content creator Kelz Washington, who is friends with Ser’Darius Blain, to create a comedic branded video that played upon the film’s theme by having the two switch bodies. Sony also took advantage of holiday travel behavior by dominating airport and mall advertising in top markets.

The studio also targeted rock concert-goers with a huge promotion on iHeartRadio’s Jingle Ball 12-city tour, which featured performances by Taylor Swift, Katy Perry, the Jonas Brothers, and more. This included Jumbotron content for the film, as well as on-site activations.

Imax drove $3.7M worth of business at 406 domestic locations before Disney’s Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker takes over on Thursday night.

Still largely holding the estimates that we were seeing earlier, Warner Bros. Richard Jewell and Universal’s Black Christmas took spots 4 and 5 with, respectively, an awful $5M and $4.4M. Not that these movies were expected to set the world on fire. It’s just that tracking services expected around a $10M+ start for both. We dive into what went wrong below. In the case of Black Christmas being a PG-13 film, it’s debatable whether an earlier date in the fall would have helped this movie: Everybody hates it with a D+ Cinemascore, and 1 1/2 stars on PostTrack. Saturday dipped 13% to $1.58M from $1.8M for the Imogeen Poots horror reboot. Meanwhile Richard Jewell actually saw a small 25% hike in business on Saturday to $1.96M from $1.56M on Friday.

A24’s Uncut Gems scored the second-best opening theater average of the year with $105K (or $525,4K at 5 theaters) after Parasite‘s $131K. But more importantly, it’s the Gotham distributor’s best opening screening average ever, beating Moonlight‘s $100.5K from October 2016. Lionsgate’s Bombshell was also off to a huge start in its exclusive release at 4 venues with a $78K opening theater average –the 5th best of the year–for $312K 3-day.

Good news: Comscore reports that all titles this weekend grossed $119.7M, +2% from a year ago. Bad news is that 2019 still drags behind 2018 by 5% (which, by this time, had already clicked past $11.1 billion) with $10.4M.

Weekend B.O. For Dec. 13-15

thumb rank pic dis scrs(cg) fri sat sun 3-day total wk
1 Jumanji: Next Level Sony 4,227 $19.55M $23.3M $17.1M $60.1M $60.1M 1
2 Frozen 2 Dis 4,078 (-270) $4.4M $8.8M $5.9M $19.1M (-45%) $366.5M 4
3 Knives Out LG/MRC 3,413 (-48) $2.6M $4.1M $2.5M $9.25M (-35%) $78.9M 3
4 Richard Jewell WB 2,502 $1.56M $1.96M  $1.47M $5M $5M 1
5 Black Christmas Uni 2,625 $1.8M $1.58M $1M $4.4M $4.4M 1
6 Ford v Ferrari Dis/Fox 2,895 (-851) $1.1M $1.8M  $1.1M $4.1M (-38%) $98.2M 5
7 Queen & Slim Uni 1,560 (-155) $1M $1.56M $1M $3.6M (-46%) $33.1M 3
8 Beautiful Day… Sony 2,855 (-636) $965K $1.4M $955K $3.35M (-35%) $49.3M 4
9 Dark Waters Focus 2,112 (+100) $560K $840K $600K $2M (-50%) $8.9M 4
10 21 Bridges STX 1,533 (-932) $340K $520K $330K $1.18M (-59%) $26.3M 4


3rd Update, Saturday AM: Updated with chart and more analysis This can sometimes be an unpredictable weekend at the box office prior to Christmas. But when a studio has some form of solid goods, there are riches to be gained. Sony bravely went before Star Wars this year with its Jumanji sequel, rather than follow like they did in 2017, and they’re off to a great start, with Jumanji: The Next Level making a $19.4M estimated Friday and a $52.4M opening weekend. The pic’s entire running WW cume by Sunday is expected to reach $196M+.

“There is a lot to like with Next Level, starting with the returning cast. The Rock, Kevin Hart, Jack Black, and Karen Gillan are all adored by family-friendly moviegoing audiences. And, for the most part, fans are liking the change of pace with the ‘something’s wrong with the game’ storyline. Even Ozzy Osbourne’s song featured in the trailer is getting some call-outs. All in all, the discussion leans heavily positive for a sequel that had such an entertaining predecessor – not to mention all the super-social cast returning and some new faces like Awkwafina added, too,” says social media monitor RelishMix, which has a pulse on what’s working and what’s not at the multiplex.

Friday night exits on PostTrak segued to 65% general audiences, 35% families, with 3 1/2 stars from general audiences and parents and 4 stars from kids under 12 skewing 55% boys to 45% girls. A largely even spread among all audiences, with men over 25 leading at 28%, females under 25 at 25%, females over 25 and men under 25 each at 24%. Close to half of the audience was under 25, with 72% under 35 years old. Diversity mix was 49% Caucasian, 21% Asian/Other, 15% African American, & 15% Hispanic. The Next Level played best in the West and South-West, but was pretty solid throughout.

Given the near $1 billion success of the first movie, Sony made damn sure this sequel was definitely going to work, unlike the recent misfires of such IP as Charlie’s Angels ($55.8M global worldwide) and the OK performance of Zombieland: Double Tap, which at $119.5M WW is only 17% better than its ten-year-old first chapter.

Suffering at the box office are Warner Bros. “A” Cinemascore-rated, Clint Eastwood-directed movie Richard Jewell, and Universal/Blumhouse’s under-$5M horror pic Black Christmas, which are, respectively, earning $4.9M and $4.5M in spots 4 and 5. While Jumanji: The Next Level was generally in the range of tracking, both Richard Jewell and Black Christmas are well below the $10M minimum that services were spotting on both films.

Claire Folger/Warner Bros.

Warners planted Richard Jewell right where they put Eastwood’s The Mule last December, which was a great sleeper opening to $17.5M and legging out to $103.8M. But that’s because it starred the American icon and his fare (outside of American Sniper) generally does better at the B.O. of late when he stars in it. It would be easy to say that the controversy alone stirred up by the Atlanta Journal Constitution over their portrayal and their late reporter Kathy Scruggs in Richard Jewell is what’s sinking this pic’s B.O. But there are other obvious factors as well. This is a sophisticated adult film opening in the pre-Christmas corridor, so right there its ticket sales are hampered. Also, the pic’s storyline of a hero security guard who is beaten down by the FBI and the media as a suspect in the 1996 Atlanta Olympic bombing doesn’t exactly scream joy-joy this holiday season.

Also, unlike Sully, Richard Jewell isn’t a movie about an unsung hero in recent memory, and doesn’t feature a marquee star like Tom Hanks. Star power didn’t factor into Eastwood’s decision when he went for the best actor for the role of Jewell (who is a shoo-in for the part), fresh face, on-the-rise I,Tonya actor Paul Walter Hauser.

While Eastwood pics will get launched in the December period, sometimes Warners will platform them. Eastwood works fast, so this one, like Mule last year, was ready for a 4Q opening promptly after its summer shoot. Given that the pic has a late tee-off in awards season and didn’t swoon Golden Globe or SAG voting members (with only one Globe nom for Kathy Bates in her supporting role), that also is factoring into the pic’s slowdown here.

At this time of year, expect Richard Jewell as an Eastwood pic to do a 3x, maybe 4x multiple. The pic’s opening is under that of Eastwood’s Nelson Mandela feature Invictus, which starred Morgan Freeman and Matt Damon and opened to $8.6M, and finaled at $37.4M. The ideal scenario for this movie, given its solid Cinemascore and Rotten Tomatoes of 75% fresh? Launch this film earlier in awards season out of a festival, wait out and fight out the controversy, and beat the drum everywhere for Richard Jewell (which, by the way, is how Netflix is sweeping noms and awards so far this season with The Irishman — by spending and being everywhere. Take a note on that and wake up to that, major studios).

However, Warners is high on Just Mercy, which they launched at TIFF, and that, despite its performances, is a very sleepy movie. Richard Jewell has bite. With a cost of $45M before P&A and an American story, don’t expect much from overseas with Richard Jewell, in what is another upscale adult misfire for Warner Bros.

Richard Jewell drew 54% male with 56% under 35 and 55% between 18-34 years old. Moviegoers were comprised of 69% Caucasian, 14% African American, 7% Hispanic and 4% Asian. Best territories for Richard Jewell were in the Mid-West and South where Eastwood films usually work, but even there ticket sales were mediocore.

Says RelishMix, “Social discussion for this latest Eastwood drama is politely and diplomatically described as heated. There are those who feel like Eastwood’s films are masterpieces of dramatic storytelling. But there is plenty of impassioned discussion over the greater topic of the media in this country, its power, and Jewell as the obvious example for many comments.  Negative discussion ranges from interesting points and counter-points to outright disgraceful language and vitriol far-too- common in our current social environment. The bottom line is that, like other controversial movies, much of the convo specific to the film is mixed – and a good percentage of the film’s total volume concerns topics tangential to Jewell.”

Kirsty Griffin/Universal Pictures

After cutting a great trailer for Black Christmas, (viral rate was high, according to RelishMix at 28:1, above the horror genre’s 25:1 viral rate), how the hell did this film burn up like a Christmas tree? Some prestige critics from Variety and NY Times enjoyed the movie, with others applauding the pic’s “skewering of toxic masculinity, the white male literary canon, and rape culture,” as IndieWire praised. But overall, this reboot of the 1974 movie and 2006 Dimension movie in which the sorority girls vs. the guys is being knifed in the back by moviegoers with an awful D+ Cinemascore and 1 1/2 stars and a 38% definite recommend on PostTrak.

Some genre critics (over RT here is a bad 43% Rotten) complain that the first first hour of this 92 movie is a drag, with all of the scares falling flat. RelishMix screams, “The general feeling is that the trailer ruins the film by giving away too much and revealing the very twist of the movie related to a cult.”

Universal has opened a Christmas horror pic film before in early December, Krampus, which did a $16.2M 3-day, $42.7M final and $61.5M. But that was in the post-Black Friday weekend dead zone (the first weekend of December) which is where horror at this time of year can have a chance (as well as at the end of the month, closer to New Year’s). Uni wanted to get some distance from Disney behemoth Frozen 2, but that film is continuing to take young females away from this PG-13 horror pic with a third weekend of $19.1M in 2nd place, not to mention Jumanji: The Next Level is capturing 13% of the 13-17 crowd to Black Christmas’ 9%.

Of the few who turned out, mostly older people at males over 25 (32%), females over 25 (29%), with females under 25 at 25% and 15% guys under 25. The East and the South were best markets for Black Christmas, but even there sales were bad. The whole holiday box office multiple defense won’t work here for this pic because the audience response is so horrible.


On the specialty side, A24’s Safdie Brothers crime thriller Uncut Gems is looking at the second-best theater average of the year, behind Parasite‘s $131K, with an estimated $120.2K from five theaters for a $601K 3-day. I hear this number has sneak grosses in it. Lincoln Square, Union Square, Alamo Drafthouse Brooklyn, Arclight Hollywood and Century City AMC were all awesome, bolstered by Q&As. Pic is 92% fresh on Rotten Tomatoes.

Charlize Theron and John Lithgow in 'Bombshell'

Likewise, Lionsgate/Bron Studios’ Bombshell, about the women who took on Fox News boss Roger Ailes, is looking at the third best screen average of the year with $95.4K from four sites and a 3-day of $381.6K. The Jay Roach-directed movie is 60% fresh on Rotten Tomatoes. Lincoln Square’s Friday of $63K was fantastic with Union Square, ArcLight Hollywood and Century City AMC also strong, boosted by Q&As.

Fox Searchlight’s $13M pick-up of Terrence Malick’s A Hidden Life isn’t doing so hot, with $49.6K at five theaters for an awful $9.9K average. The Cannes Film Festival feature is 78% on RT. Pic’s play at the Landmark 57th St, Angelika, Cinema 1, ArcLight Hollywood, and Landmark on Pico was pretty bad, especially next to other awards season fare arthouse debuts this weekend.

Box Office For Dec. 13-15

thumb rank film dis. screens (chg) friday(vs. prev fri) 3-day Cume
1 Jumanji: Next Level Sony 4,227 $19.4M $52.4M $52.4M 1
2 Frozen 2 Disney 4,078 (-270) $4.4M (-44%) $19.2M (-45%) $366.6M 4
3 Knives Out LG/MRC 3,413 (-48) $2.6M (-36%) $9.1M (-36%) $78.8M 3
4 Richard Jewell WB 2,502 $1.5M $4.9M $4.9M 1
5 Black Christmas Uni/Blum 2,625 $1.8M $4.5M  $4.5M 1
6 Ford V Ferrari Fox/Dis 2,895 (-851) $1.1M (-38%) $4.1M (-38%) $98.2M 5
7 Queen & Slim Uni/Make/Bron 1,560 (-155) $1M (-48%) $3.5M (-47%) $33.1M 3
8 A beautiful Day… Sony 2,855 (-636) $952K (-38%) $3.2M (-38%) $49.1M 4
9 Dark Waters Foc 2,112 (+100) $560K (-60%) $1.8M (-55%) $8.6M 4
10 Last Christmas STX 1,533 (-932) $340K (-58%) $1.2M (-58%) $26.3M 4


2nd Update, Friday Midday: Jumanji: The Next Level per industry estimates is on its way to $17.5M-$18M for a 3-day of $46M-$50M, well ahead of the previous installment’s 3-day of $36.1M which was actually a 6-day opener through the then Christmas holiday of $71.9M. Jumanji Welcome to the Jungle was boosted by early Amazon sneaks of $2M; the pic opened in full sans Tuesday previews on the Wednesday before Christmas which fell on a Monday in 2017. Already in its overseas release, Jumanji: The Next Level counts $66.8M from 18 offshore territories including China, France, Taiwan and Indonesia to name a few.

Overseas according to Nancy Tartaglione, Jumanji: The Next Level is adding several majors including the UK, Germany, Spain, Russia, Japan, Korea and Mexico. Industry estimates have the pic coming in between $60M-$65M mark in the new markets.  UK and Korea opened Wednesday. Last weekend’s holdovers are expected to contribute about $20M for the FSS, so the full frame should come in at $80M+ overseas. Add that to the week’s total and running foreign B.O. for the Jake Kasdan pic will stand at $146.8M with a potential full global tally of $196M+ by Sunday.

The $52.5M international debut session last weekend included China which underperformed, whereas numbers elsewhere in Asia and Europe were better, largely surpassing Welcome To The Jungle. Australia, Italy and Brazil are still to release later in December and in early January.

Outside of families, adults sans kids aren’t ready to come to the movies this week, still distracted by holiday activities with Warner Bros. Richard Jewell opening at a low $6M in 4th place off a $1.8M-$2M Friday. Universal/Blumhouse Black Christmas isn’t putting wads of cash under the studio’s Christmas tree with $2M today and $5.3M for the weekend in 5th. Hopefully people will find these pics later in the season.

1st Update, Friday 7:10 AM: Sony’s sequel Jumanji: The Next Level is off to a great start with a $4.7 million Thursday off shows that began at 4 PM in 3,778 locations. Sony sees a $35M opening weekend at 4,227 theaters, but others see the third pic in the franchise much higher, in the $45M-$50M range. Typically, moviegoing doesn’t explode until after Christmas, so even if Jumanji 2 comes in lower than expected, the hope is for a big multiple. Like 2017, the pic will be the other tentpole in a holiday marketplace next to Star Wars. 

Last night’s cash is just above what Paramount’s reboot of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles made in August 2014, which resulted in a $65.5M opening. Remember there aren’t any K-12 schools out today, only 27% colleges. Next Friday when Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker opens, school vacation stats jump to 15% K-12 out, 79% colleges on break, hence the beginning of a robust holiday period. Another box office comparison title being looked at here is last December’s Spider-Man: Into the Spider-verse which made $3.5M in previews before finaling a $12.6M Friday, $35.3M opening.

Parents and kids under 12 last night gave the Dwayne Johnson-Kevin Hart-Jack Black-Karen Gillan and director Jake Kasdan reteam 4 stars on Comscore/Screen Engine’s PostTrak, while general audiences gave it 3 1/2 stars and a 58% definite recommend. These exits can fluctuate throughout the weekend. The pic drew 74% general audience, 26% families. Jumanji 2 has a 69% Rotten Tomatoes score, just under the 76% certified fresh score of the last installment, which revived the Sony brand with a $36.1M stateside opening, and a very leggy $404.5M stateside and $962.1M worldwide. We hear from solid finance sources that Jumanji: The Next Level cost around $132M net.

Warner Bros is opening Clint Eastwood’s Richard Jewell today in the throes of the pic’s controversy over its portrayal of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. No previews were held last night, but the pic is expected to file $10M at 2,502 locations.

Black Christmas

Going after young females (who still yet have to come out in droves), Universal/Blumhouse has Black Christmas in roughly 2,500 theaters today with an eye on $10M-$12M. We hear at this early part of the morning that the Sophia Takal-directed feature made $230K in previews. Pic stars Imogen Poots, Aleyse Shannon, Lily Donoghue, Brittany O’Grady, Caleb Eberhardt, Simon Mead and Cary Elwes in a reboot of the 1974 movie. In this rendition, a group of female students are stalked by a stranger during their Christmas break, that is until the young sorority pledges discover that the killer is part of an underground college conspiracy. Critics weren’t kind to Black Christmas, giving it a 41% Rotten Tomatoes score. The pic’s exits were awful last night with 1 star on PostTrak and a 29% definite recommend. Make-up was 54% males/46% females, with 45% under 25/55% over 25. Leading demos last night were men over 25 (31%), women over 25 (24%), men under 25 (23%) and females under 25 (22%).

Disney’s Frozen 2of course, led all pics in regular release Thursday with an estimated $1.76M, ending its third week with $44.4M and a running total of $347.3M. Lionsgate/MRC’s Knives Out was second with $1.27M, a second-week take of $20.3M and a running estimated total of $69.7M.


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