Box Office: 'Jumanji 2' Opens to Merry $60M, 'Richard Jewell' Falls Flat With $5M

Jumanji The Next Level - Publicity Still 3 - H 2019
Hiram Garcia

'Richard Jewell' is the second-worst nationwide opening of Clint Eastwood's directing career and the worst in nearly four decades. Meanwhile, 'Black Christmas' is also getting dissed.

Sony's year-end event pic Jumanji: The Next Level got off to a merry start at the pre-holiday box office, opening ahead of expectations with an estimated $60.1 million.

The Dwayne Johnson-Kevin Hart sequel had no trouble topping the North American chart, despite a crowded marquee that included new offerings Richard Jewell, from director Clint Eastwood, and the slasher remake Black Christmas, both of which bowed to dismal numbers.

Overseas, Jumanji 2 earned another $85.7 million (the pic began rolling out offshore last weekend) to unseat Frozen 2 and finish Sunday with a foreign tally of $152.2 million and $212.8 million globally. While it is struggling in China and South Korea, the pic opened to a strong $12.6 million in the U.K. and $8.9 million in Germany, among other notable markets.

Heading into the weekend, Sony erred on the side of caution in predicting a $35 million domestic opening for Jumanji 2, while most thought it would open in the $40 million to $50 million range. The film, which earned an A- CinemaScore, was able to avoid the sequel virus that has infected a number of franchise installments this year, while a 20 percent uptick from Friday to Saturday pointed to a strong turnout among families.

With holiday preparations and parties underway, mid-December isn't known for huge openings, outside of the recent Star Wars pics. Rather, titles count on strong multiples throughout the Christmas to New Year's stretch, when kids and college students are sprung from school.

This time out, the latest Jumanji installment opted to bow a week before Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, whereas Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle rode into theaters on Dec. 20, 2017, with a $36 million domestic debut a week after Star Wars: The Last Jedi opened to $220 million.

Heading into the weekend, both Black Christmas and Richard Jewell were expected to debut in the $10 million range, if not higher.

Instead, Richard Jewell took in only $5 million despite an A CinemaScore, making it the second-worst nationwide opening ever for a pic directed by Eastwood behind 1980's Bronco Billy, which posted a first weekend gross of $3.7 million not adjusted for inflation, according to Comscore.

The last time one of the filmmaker's movies debuted wide to less than $6 million was in 1999, when True Crime came in at $5.2 million, not adjusted for inflation.

While Eastwood's pics generally enjoy strong multiples, Richard Jewell will have trouble recovering against a budget of $40 million before marketing. Last year, Eastwood's The Mule debuted on the same weekend to $17.5 million on its way to earning $103.8 million domestically (he also starred in the crime drama).

Richard Jewell recounts the real-life story of the titular security guard (Paul Walter Hauser) who was initially celebrated as a hero for saving lives after a bombing during the 1996 Summer Olympics, then vilified when he became an FBI target and was reported as a suspect by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

In recent days, Eastwood's biographical drama became engulfed in controversy after the newspaper objected strenuously to the pic's portrayal of the late journalist Kathy Scruggs (Olivia Wilde), who in the film seduces an FBI agent and is implied to have sex with him in order to get information.

On Thursday, Wilde weighed in on Twitter. "Contrary to a swath of recent headlines, I do not believe that Kathy 'traded sex for tips.' Nothing in my research suggested she did so, and it was never my intention to suggest she had. That would be an appalling and misogynistic dismissal of the difficult work she did," said the actress.

In a statement earlier in the week, Warner Bros. said, "It is unfortunate and the ultimate irony that the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, having been a part of the rush to judgment of Richard Jewell, is now trying to malign our filmmakers and cast. Richard Jewell focuses on the real victim, seeks to tell his story, confirm his innocence and restore his name. The AJC's claims are baseless, and we will vigorously defend against them."

Black Christmas — timing its opening to Friday the 13th — opened to an estimated $4.4 million after failing to win over younger moviegoers in full force and flunking with a D+ CinemaScore. The good news: The Universal and Blumhouse microbudgeted pic cost a reported $5 million to make before marketing.

Black Christmas is the second remake of the 1974 cult horror classic about a cadre of sorority sisters who must fend off a campus killer during the deserted holidays. Imogen Poots, Aleyse Shannon, Lily Donoghue, Brittany O'Grady, Caleb Eberhardt and Cary Elwes star in the Sophia Takal-directed pic.

Richard Jewell and Black Christmas came in at Nos. 4 and 5, respectively, behind Jumanji 2 and holdovers Frozen 2 and Knives Out.

Frozen 2 placed second with $19.2 million domestically as it topped the $1 billion mark globally (it took in another $55.7 million abroad over the weekend).

Knives Out landed in third with a pleasing $9.3 million domestically after securing a Golden Globe nomination for best picture for a musical or comedy. Rian Johnson's whodunit grossed $13.6 million offshore for a global cume of $162.2 million for Lionsgate and MRC. (MRC shares a parent company, Valence Media, with The Hollywood Reporter.)

Among other holdovers, Ford v Ferrari cruised to No. 6 with $4.1 million as it neared the $100 million mark domestically, finishing Sunday with a domestic cume of $98.2 million and $184 million worldwide.

With awards season in full swing, two high-profile contenders launched in select theaters at the specialty box office: Jay Roach's Fox News sexual harassment saga Bombshell, produced by and starring Charlize Theron alongside Nicole Kidman and Margot Robbie; and Josh and Benny Safdie's Uncut Gems, starring Adam Sandler.

Uncut Gems, which opened in five cinemas in New York and Los Angeles, nabbed a dazzling location average of $105,100, a record for distributor A24 and one of the best averages of the year to date.

Bombshell, from Lionsgate, followed with an impressive average of $78,025 from four theaters.

Terrence Malick's A Hidden Life also bowed in N.Y. and L.A. over the weekend, albeit to a tepid location average of 10,400 from five locations.

Dec. 13, 1 p.m. Updated with revised weekend estimates.
Dec. 14, 7:45 a.m. Updated with revised weekend estimates.
Dec. 15, 7 a.m. Updated with revised weekend numbers.