Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle is now out on Digital HD and will soon release on DVD and Blu-Ray, even though it’s still playing in most major theaters in the United States. Directed by Jake Kasdan, Jumanji 2 is a standalone sequel to Joe Johnston’s 1995 film, Jumanji, yet it’s an original story that doesn’t take much inspiration from Chris Van Allsburg’s original 1981 Jumanji novel.
Starring Dwayne Johnson, Karen Gillan, Kevin Hart, Jack Black, and Nick Jonas, Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle became an astounding critical and commercial success when it hit theaters this past December. Jumanji 2 has grossed over $930 million so far at the worldwide box office and is now Sony’s second highest-grossing movie of all-time, behind only Sam Mendes’ Skyfall ($1.108 billion). That’s quite an impressive feat considering that Jumanji 2 released less than one week after Star Wars: Episode VIII – The Last Jedi and opened in second place in its first weekend. But, it struck a chord with audiences, and strong word-of-mouth helped the film obtain a level of staying power that no one could’ve expected – and that’s evident by the fact that it’s still playing in theaters despite releasing on home video.
Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle is playing in upwards of 2,300 theaters in the United States (via Box Office Mojo), and it just released on Digital HD. Plus, it’s going to release on DVD/Blu-Ray in two weeks – on March 20. For comparison, The Greatest Showman, which released the same day as Jumanji 2 and is seeing strong box office growth of its own, is playing in just over 1,400 theaters, while The Last Jedi is now playing in only 221 theaters. What’s more, Jumanji 2 still landed in seventh place on the domestic chart this past weekend, thus showing that audiences are still seeing the movie.
If Jumanji 2 stays in theaters for another few weeks and continues to earn at least a few million dollars each weekend, it will most likely top Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man ($403 million) to become Sony’s highest-grossing domestic release of all-time (unadjusted for ticket price inflation, of course). After all, it has already passed every other Spider-Man film on the domestic chart, including Jon Watts’ Spider-Man: Homecoming from last year.
While most studios would avoid going up against a behemoth like Star Wars (see: Avatar 2‘s constant delays), looking back, it seems it was a wise decision on the studio’s part not only to delay Jumanji 2 from 2016 to 2017 but also release it opposite Star Wars: The Last Jedi. Even though both movies cater to families, Jumanji 2‘s action-comedy nature, as well as the fact that it was simply fun for audiences to watch and easy to follow, encouraged repeat viewings.
Of course, this isn’t the first time that a film has released on home video and still stayed in theaters (e.g. Titanic stayed in theaters until Oct 1, 1998, yet it released on home video one month earlier – on Sep. 1), it is the first time for a blockbuster film like Jumanji 2 to do so in the digital age. If Jumanji 2 was playing in only a few hundred theaters, then it could theoretically leave cinemas soon. But with the film playing in more than 2,000 theaters nationwide, it’s unknown just how long it will stay that way until Sony removes it. If it does stay in theaters for another month or so, it’s possible that it could eventually cross $1 billion. Now that will be an achievement no one could’ve imagined last year.
Given that Jumanji 2 opened opposite Star Wars and has managed to climb this far, it not only shows that Jumanji is a franchise that Sony should’ve let go of just yet but also that studios shouldn’t let competition control their release schedule as long as their films are decent enough to attract a crowd. Counter-programming can always work so long as the movies themselves are good – and Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle is proof of that. It’s no wonder Sony is planning on releasing Jumanji 3 around Star Wars: Episode IX – but can they catch lightning in a bottle twice?
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