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Box Office: ‘Jumanji 2’ Eyes $40 Million-Plus Debut

Will Christmas bring a fruitful box office bounty for Sony’s “Jumanji: The Next Level”?

The Dwayne Johnson and Kevin Hart-led sequel, which arrives in theaters on Dec. 13, is on pace to debut to $40 million to $50 million, according to early tracking services. Since tracking has been unreliable for sequels in recent weeks, Sony is cautiously projecting $35 million over the three-day frame. The studio’s estimates would be a softer start, given the movie’s A-list cast and reported $125 million production budget. 

Its predecessor, “Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle,” launched to similar numbers — $36 million over the weekend and $52 million during its first five days of release — over the same frame two years earlier. It became a surprise hit and stuck around in multiplexes well into the new year, ultimately earning $404.5 million in North America and $962 million worldwide. Success of the follow-up will depend heavily on whether or not it can recapture the same charm from Johnson, Hart, Jack Black and Nick Jonas’ on-screen chemistry. Awkwafina, Danny Glover and Danny DeVito joined the cast for the new installment, directed again by Jake Kasdan. “Jumanji: The Next Level” follows friends who inadvertently get sucked into a video game.

Sony still has three weeks to ramp up marketing efforts and build buzz around the all-audience offering. Moreover, holiday releases don’t always deliver robust openings, but can have a substantial haul by the time the new year rolls around. Like “Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle,” the tentpole will again have to compete with a “Star Wars” movie. Disney and Lucasfilm’s “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker,” which opens on Dec. 20, is expected to be a massive draw for a broad audience. 

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“Jumanji” is among a handful of titles hitting the big screen ahead of the holidays, opening alongside Warner Bros. and Clint Eastwood’s “Richard Jewell,” and Universal’s dark thriller “Black Christmas.” “Richard Jewell” and “Black Christmas” are each expecting $10 million debuts.

Eastwood directed “Richard Jewell,” a biographical drama about the suspect in the 1996 Olympic bombing. The movie, which launched at AFI Fest on Wednesday, has garnered solid reviews and could find itself in the awards race. The cast includes Paul Walter Hauser, Sam Rockwell, Kathy Bates, Jon Hamm and Olivia Wilde.

“Black Christmas,” a slasher tale from director Sophia Takal, is the second remake of a 1974 Canadian film. Tied to the release of Friday the 13th, the pic follows sorority girls who are being killed one by one by an unknown stalker.

Hollywood is banking on big-budget offerings like “Jumanji: The Next Level” and “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker” to boost overall revenues. Domestic box office ticket sales are down over 6% from last year, but a lucrative holiday season could help narrow that gap.

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