Jumanji: The Next Level topped the weekend box office in its debut, bringing in $60.1 million, while Clint Eastwood’s Richard Jewell underperformed, debuting at the No. 4 spot with just $5 million following a barrage of media controversy over the way it portrayed a journalist.
Starring Dwayne Johnson and Kevin Hart, Jumanji 2 outperformed the original 2017 movie, which brought in $36.2 million on its opening three-day holiday weekend. The new release has exceeded Sony’s conservative expectation of a $35 million domestic opening.
The first Jumanji turned out to be a global smash hit, grossing $404.5 million domestically and $962.1 million worldwide.
Richard Jewell bowed at $5 million, a big disappointment for Warner Bros., which had estimated a $10 million debut. The movie earned mostly positive reviews, especially for the lead performance by Paul Walter Hauser as the security guard who was falsely accused by the FBI and the media of carrying out the 1996 bombing of Centennial Olympic Park in Atlanta.
But the movie also generated a media firestorm for its portrayal of the late Atlanta Journal-Constitution reporter Kathy Scruggs, who botched her series of stories that fingered Jewell as the main culprit.
In one scene, the movie implies that Scruggs (played by Olivia Wilde) traded sex for a scoop about Jewell. The newspaper threatened to sue Warner Bros. over the scene, but the studio has defended the movie.
Eastwood’s last move, The Mule, was a box-office hit that ended up grossing more than $100 million domestically.
The week’s other new release was Universal’s Black Christmas, a Yuletide slasher that came in fifth place with a modest $4.4 million.
Disney’s Frozen II continued to perform well, bringing in $19.2 million in its fourth week of release. So far, the animated sequel has grossed $366.5 million in the U.S. and Canada.
The sleeper hit Knives Out also held steady at No. 3, grossing in $9.3 million for a cumulative domestic gross of $78.9 million.