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Can ‘Jumanji’ Sequel Achieve Next-Level Box Office Success?

Jumanji: The Next Level” will seamlessly swing atop box office charts when it debuts in theaters on Friday. But the sequel will need to become another word-of-mouth hit for Sony if it hopes to entice moviegoers once “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker” launches the following weekend.

If history repeats itself, “Jumanji” and “Star Wars” can co-exist at the box office in harmony. In 2017, “Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle” and “Star Wars: The Last Jedi” opened a week apart and both found massive commercial success. Thanks to the on-screen chemistry between Dwayne Johnson and Kevin Hart, “Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle” became a surprise success with $405 million in North America and $962 million worldwide. Rian Johnson’s “Star Wars” sequel ended its theatrical run with a robust $1.3 million. Even with fierce box office competition, holiday releases tend to have big multiples since patrons often go to the movies more than once between Christmas and New Years.

Jumanji: The Next Level” is also banking on long run in theaters to justify its $125 million price tag. The fantasy-comedy is targeting an opening between $45 million to $55 million from 4,160 venues, though some bullish box office watchers predict that figure could reach closer to $60 million with strong buzz. However, Sony continues to curb expectations, given inconsistencies with tracking across the industry (particularly with sequels). The studio is projecting a $35 million start, on par with its predecessor’s $36 million opening weekend.

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Ahead of its domestic debut, “Jumanji: The Next Level” kicked off overseas with $52.2 million. Though momentum could pick up, its already pacing well behind its predecessor in China, where it opened with $25 million compared to $39 million for the first film.

“Jumanji: The Next Level” again stars Johnson, Hart, Jack Black, Nick Jonas and Karen Gillan, while Awkwafina, Danny Glover and Danny DeVito joined the cast. The sequel follows the group of friends, who re-enter the fantastical — an even more dangerous — world of Jumanji.

Two new movies — Warner Bros. drama “Richard Jewell” and Universal and Blumhouse’s dark thriller “Black Christmas” — are arriving on theater marquees alongside “Jumanji.”

Directed by Clint Eastwood, “Richard Jewell” is a biographical drama based on the security guard falsely accused by the media for playing a part in the 1996 Olympics bombing. The film, starring Paul Walter Hauser, Sam Rockwell, Kathy Bates, Jon Hamm and Olivia Wilde, is expected to earn $10 million from 2,502 venues in North America. “Richard Jewell” has been making headlines of its own after it found itself in the center of controversy over its portrayal of a female journalist trading sex for scoops.

Black Christmas” is targeting a similar debut between $10 million and $12 million from 2,500 screens. Sophia Takal directed the remake of a 1974 slasher film about sorority girls being stalked by an unknown killer.

Elsewhere, A24’s “Uncut Gems” and Lionsgate’s “Bombshell” are debuting in limited release. Josh and Benny Safdie directed “Uncut Gems,” an intense crime drama starring Adam Sandler as a New York jeweler dealing with repercussions from a high-stakes bet. “Bombshell” depicts the female Fox News anchors who went public with sexual harassment allegations against Roger Ailes. Both films have enjoyed critical acclaim.

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