China Box Office: 'Jumanji 2' Levels Down With Soft $25M Opening

Jumanji The Next Level - Publicity Still 4 - H 2019
Hiram Garcia

'Jumanji: The Next Level' declined 38 percent from the first movie in 2018. Chinese noir romance ‘The Wild Goose Lake,’ meanwhile, made a strong start for an art house title, taking in $19.4 million.

Sony's Jumanji: The Next Level made a shaky start in China over the weekend, opening to $24.7 million, according to data from Artisan Gateway.

That's a 38 percent slide from Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle's $39.7 three-day debut in January 2018. On China's 630 Imax screens, the sequel took in $2.3 million.

It was a downbeat weekend overall in the Middle Kingdom, but so-so word of mouth for Jumanji 2 didn't help. The film received social scores of 7.7, 8 and 6.2 out of 10 from ticketing services Maoyan and Taopiaopiao and film fan site Douban, respectively. Those are among the lowest scores for a major release so far this winter, except for Brad Gray's Ad Astra, which has left Chinese filmgoers especially cold. Ad Astra opened in China on Thursday and grossed just $2.8 million over its first four days. 

The Next Level opened in 17 other international markets Friday, including France, the Netherlands and most of Southeast Asia. Its international total now stands at $52.5 million, according to Sony. Recent tracking in North America had the film revving up for a domestic debut of around $40 million over the Dec. 13-15 weekend.

The sequel reunites director Jake Kasdan with his Welcome to the Jungle stars Dwayne Johnson, Jack Black, Kevin Hart, Karen Gillan and Nick Jonas. Newcomers include Awkwafina, Danny Glover and Danny DeVito.

China's box office had delivered some brighter news in second place. Diao Yinan's Chinese noir romance The Wild Goose Lake, which premiered at Cannes in May to mostly positive reviews (including from Quentin Tarantino), opened to $19.4 million — a strong finish for a film with art house flourishes. Diao's previous feature, Black Coal, Thin Ice, winner of Berlin's Golden Bear, was considered a commercial breakthrough for Chinese art house cinema back in 2014 when it earned $16.5 million.

Mainstream Chinese filmgoers appear to be responding favorably to the new feature, despite its somewhat slow pacing and meandering storyline. Wild Goose Lake has scores of 8.2 on Taopiaopiao and 7.5 on Douban — well above the norm for more challenging Chinese cinema.

The film follows a gangster on the run (Hu Ge in a star-making performance), who sacrifices everything for his family and a woman (Kwei Lun-Mei) he meets while on the lam.

Walt Disney Animation's Frozen 2 slipped to third place in its third frame, adding $9.6 million while climbing to $105 million.

The Whistleblower, a corruption thriller co-produced by China and Australia, scored fourth with $4.3 million. The film is written and directed by Xue Xiaolu. It tells the story of a Chinese expatriate working for a mining firm in Australia who discovers that new technology developed by the company may be a public hazard.

Rian Johnson's star-studded mystery thriller Knives Out earned $4 million in its second frame. The film has earned $24 million in China, a healthy share of its $124 million worldwide total.