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How Jumanji Took On Star Wars - And Won

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Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle opened one week after Rian Johnson's Star Wars: The Last Jedi, and against all the odds it emerged out of the packed holiday season a box office winner. The standalone sequel to Joe Johnston's 1995 fantasy comedy, Jumanji (itself based on Chris Van Allsburg's 1981 novel of the same name), had been in development for several years before Bad Teacher director Jake Kasdan came on board. Spider-Man: Homecoming's Chris McKenna and Erik Sommers, along with Gone in Sixty Seconds' Scott Rosenberg and LOST's Jeff Pinkner, penned the script that has earned widespread critical acclaim for its blending of comedic chops swashbuckling fun.

The long-awaited Jumanji sequel snagged second place at the box office (behind Star Wars) over its opening weekend with a gross of $36.17 million. However, whereas The Last Jedi ended up having the worst Friday-to-Friday drop-off in cinematic history, Jumanji's box office actually increased in the film's second weekend (New Year's), grossing $50 million. It finally managed to surpass The Last Jedi for the top spot at the domestic box office on New Year's Day, and it has held that position ever since (as of the time of this writing), even besting new releases such as Insidious: The Last Key and Paddington 2.

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Related: Jumanji 2 Alternate Ending Revealed

All in all, Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle has become an astounding box office success. So far, it has earned almost $700 million at the worldwide box office, of which $293.7 million was obtained at home. To put things into perspective, that's more than Justice League's total domestic haul (and it's still climbing). In fact, Jumanji 2 is on the verge of passing Sam Mendes' Skyfall ($304.3 million) to become Sony Pictures' highest-grossing, non-Spider-Man film ever at the domestic box office. It's quite an achievement for a standalone sequel to a movie that released over 20 years ago, and one that opened opposite a Star Wars film no less. The question is, how did it become so successful in the first place?

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Why Was Jumanji 2 So Successful? (This Page)

Why Was Jumanji 2 So Successful At The Box Office?

Aside from being a sequel to a fan-favorite children's movie, Jumanji 2 had several draw factors that turned it into an indisputable success. Obviously, there are its stars: Dwayne Johnson, Karen Gillan, Kevin Hart, Jack Black, and Nick Jonas. Each brought their own, large fan bases to the table, especially Johnson, who's been identified as one of the most famous actors in the world. And the fact that Johnson and Hart have had successful collaborations in the past only propped up their team-up for Jumanji. This all draws people in and is bolstered by everything jiving well together in the film, not to mention their convincing embodiments of their high school counterparts (especially true of Black).

The other ace in Jumanji 2's hand is nostalgia. While '80s nostalgia seems to have peaked in recent years (see: GhostbustersRoboCopFootloose), '90s nostalgia is still fresh and can become even more bankable as time goes on (and as we near the 2020s). Not to miss an opportunity, the film achieves this in two forms, with it obviously a soft reboot of a 1990s property but also evoking that era's video games.

But in the end, it all boils down to Jumanji 2 being fun. The legs on Welcome to the Jungle are heavily powered by strong word of mouth, and that comes from something with strong appeal. This is an action-comedy movie that deftly navigates teen angst and young love in a humorous way, yet also allows room for self-empowerment: a combination that can achieve wonders.

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Key Release Dates
  • Solo: A Star Wars Story (2018) release date: May 25, 2018
  • Star Wars 9 / Star Wars: Episode IX (2019) release date: Dec 20, 2019
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