Sony’s hit “Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle” will face a trio of newcomers at domestic multiplexes over the four-day Martin Luther King weekend — “Paddington 2,” Liam Neeson’s “The Commuter,” and Taraji P. Henson’s “Proud Mary.”
Additionally, Steven Spielberg’s journalism drama “The Post” is going wide on Friday as awards season kicks into high gear. The fifth weekend of “Star Wars: The Last Jedi” should still be a competitor, with $577 million already banked domestically, along with the second session of “Insidious: The Last Key.”
Projections place “Jumanji” as the clear leader with a range of $25 million to $30 million over the Friday-Monday period. The top end of forecasts put “Paddington 2,” “The Post,” and “Proud Mary” each in the $23 million to $25 million range, while their respective studios project $15 million to $18 million. “The Commuter” appears to be heading slightly lower.
“Jumanji,” which scored an impressive $37.3 million last weekend to win the first 2018 session handily, will probably wind up on Monday with around $290 million — a figure that seemed unthinkable when it opened on Dec. 20, five days after “The Last Jedi.” Its holding power has underlined the marquee value of stars Dwayne Johnson and Kevin Hart.
“Paddington 2” is getting the widest release among the newcomers, with Warner Bros. booking 3,702 venues. The studio acquired North American rights to the family comedy in November from The Weinstein Company in the wake of the sexual abuse allegations against disgraced mogul Harvey Weinstein. “Paddington 2,” produced by David Heyman and Studio Canal with Ben Whishaw voicing the accident-prone bear, has already earned $125 million internationally.
“Paddington 2” has been embraced by critics and is currently rated at 100% on Rotten Tomatoes. The original “Paddington” scored $268 million worldwide following its 2014 release.
Sony is launching “Proud Mary” through its Screen Gems label on a somewhat smaller scale at about 2,100 locations. Henson plays a hit woman working for an organized crime family in Boston, whose life is completely turned around when she meets a young boy when a professional hit goes wrong.
“Proud Mary” also stars Billy Brown, Jahi Di’Allo Winston, and Danny Glover. It’s directed by Babak Najafi, and produced by Paul Schiff and Tai Duncan. During the MLK weekend a year ago, Henson’s “Hidden Figures” easily won the box office crown with $27 million in its fourth frame.
Lionsgate will open the action-thriller “The Commuter” at around 2,800 North American theaters. Neeson portrays a train passenger who becomes entwined in a murder conspiracy after meeting a mysterious woman. The campaign kicked off in October with a screening and a trailer debut across Fox NFL Sunday games, followed by an ESPN cross-platform partnership featuring NFL star Rob Gronkowski inserted into a scene from the film and a branded app for Amazon Alexa and Google Home speakers with Neeson’s voice.
“The Commuter” also kicks off a long-term partnership between Lionsgate and StudioCanal that will continue with “Early Man” and “Shaun the Sheep Movie 2.” “The Commuter” has a 73% “fresh” score on Rotten Tomatoes.
“Paddington 2” and “The Commuter” will begin rolling out with Thursday evening preview showings. “Proud Mary” screenings will start on Friday.
“The Post,” starring Tom Hanks as Washington Post editor Ben Bradlee and Meryl Streep as publisher Katharine Graham, goes wide from 36 to 2,820 sites on Friday. The National Board of Review named it the best film of 2017, with Hanks and Streep taking the top acting awards. The movie has grossed $4 million in less than three weeks with studio executives asserting that the movie appears to have strong playability to a wider audience. “The Post” has an 89% “fresh” score on Rotten Tomatoes.