By Brent Lang
LOS ANGELES (Variety.com)
In a battle of box office heavyweights, Luke Skywalker just managed to hold off Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson as the world rang in another year
Disney and LucasFilm’s “”Star Wars: The Last Jedi” retained first place for the four-day New Year’s holiday weekend despite steep competition from Sony’s “Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle.” “Last Jedi” picked up an estimated $68.4 million, bringing its domestic haul to $533.1 million.
Don’t weep for “Jumanji,” however. The fantasy reboot, which finds Johnson, Jack Black, and Kevin Hart transported into a video game world, has outperformed expectations, picking up a lordly $66.5 million over the holiday weekend. It now has a hefty $185.7 million domestic gross and should continue to draw crowds in 2018.
The “Jumanji” sequel has also done well internationally, racking up $350 million worldwide, and has provided a much-needed hit for a studio that has struggled to keep pace with the Disney’s and Warner Bros.’s of the world. Sony claims the film has a $90 million budget.
Those alleged production costs have raised eyebrows around town as to their veracity given the film’s Hawaii location and starry cast, but regardless of creative accounting and aggressive spinning, the result is impressive. A sequel seems preordained.
“Star Wars: The Last Jedi” closed 2017 as the year’s highest-grossing release and the seventh highest-grossing domestic movie of all time with $517.1 million
It will bypass its fellow franchisee “Rogue One” at some point on New Year’s Day to take the seventh spot on the stateside charts and has already blown past the $1 billion mark globally. The film carries a $200 million price tag, and has generated controversy for a series of creative decisions by director and writer Rian Johnson that have, depending on your perspective, either infused new energy into decades-old series or deviated dangerously from the Jedi canon.
It’s been a dismal year for the domestic box office, which ends 2017 with $11.12 billion in sales, down 2.3% from last year’s $11.38 billion and off slightly from 2015’s $11.14 billion, according to comScore.
After a bruising summer, when revenues plummeted more than 6% in the wake of costly flops such as “The Mummy” and “Transformer: The Last Knight,” the gap did narrow. Fall and winter hits such as “It,” “Thor: Ragnarok,” “Coco,” and “Murder on the Orient Express,” helped make up the difference.
The industry was also aided by record ticket prices. Empirically, fewer people made it to the multiplexes. Attendance is expected to hit a 27-year low when official numbers are tallied.
Universal’s “Pitch Perfect 3” took third place on the stateside charts, grossing $22.7 million for the four-day period and pushing its domestic total to just under $70 million. The a Cappella comedy carries a $45 million production budget and has been billed as the final installment in the franchise.
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