“Star Wars: The Last Jedi” will face an array of rivals at multiplexes this week as the holiday moviegoing season swings into high gear.
Sony’s “Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle” and Fox’s “The Greatest Showman” offer the first competition on Wednesday, followed by a trio of comedy wide releases two days later — Warner Bros.-Alcon’s “Father Figures,” Paramount’s “Downsizing” and Universal’s “Pitch Perfect 3.”
And on Dec. 25, Sony will launch “All the Money in the World” with Kevin Spacey replaced by Christopher Plummer in the role of J. Paul Getty, due to the sexual abuse allegations against Spacey.
Disney-Lucasfilm’s “Star Wars: The Last Jedi” will blow away the new openers. The tentpole opened with the second-largest launch of all time and has posted one of the top ten Mondays of all time, with $21.6 million domestically to lift the four-day total to $241.6 million, and will likely duplicate that on Tuesday. The six-day total between Dec. 20 and 25 will probably wind up in the $120 million to $150 million range.
“Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle” appears to have the brightest prospects among the new arrivals. The early tracking released on Nov. 30 indicated a six-day opening in the $45 million range and that forecast has remained consistent.
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The sequel to the 1995 hit is launching at about 3,700 locations amid solid reviews with an 81% “fresh” score on Rotten Tomatoes. It generated sellouts on Dec. 8 in a promotion for Amazon Prime members in 1,000 theaters.
The movie follows four high schoolers who discover an old video game and get sucked into its jungle setting. They take on the avatars of Dwayne Johnson, Kevin Hart, Jack Black, and Karen Gillan, and must play against type (a meek high school student becomes Johnson’s muscle-bound explorer Dr. Smolder Bravestone, while it-girl Bethany becomes Black’s Professor Shelly Oberon) to escape the jungle and return to the real world — before they’re stuck in the game forever.
“Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle” carries a $90 millon budget and is directed by Jake Kasdan from a screenplay by Chris McKenna and Erik Sommers and Scott Rosenberg and Jeff Pinkner with a screen story by McKenna, based on the book by Chris Van Allsburg. The film is produced by Matt Tolmach and William Teitler. The original “Jumanji,” starring the late Robin Williams, did big business for Sony’s TriStar Pictures in 1995, grossing $262 million worldwide.
Fox’s musical drama “The Greatest Showman,” starring Hugh Jackman as “Barnum and Bailey” founder P.T. Barnum, is tracking to post a six-day opening around $20 million at about 3,100 locations. The studio has been promoting “Showman” as a celebration of the birth of show business, directed by Michael Gracey, with songs by Academy Award winners Benj Pasek and Justin Paul (“La La Land”). Michelle Williams, Zendaya, Zac Efron and Rebecca Ferguson also star in the project, which carries an $88 million budget.
Tracking for Universal’s comedy “Pitch Perfect 3,” which opens on Dec. 22, has been projected for a four-day opening in the $27 million to $29 million range at approximately 3,400 North American theaters. The film will debut day-and-date in 15 international territories, including the U.K. and Ireland, Germany, Netherlands and Singapore.
“Pitch Perfect 3” sees the cast reprise their roles as the Bellas, led by Anna Kendrick, Rebel Wilson, Hailee Steinfeld, Brittany Snow and Anna Camp. It’s again produced by Paul Brooks of Gold Circle Entertainment and Max Handelman and Elizabeth Banks of Brownstone Productions, and directed by Trish Sie. Universal did not provide a budget but sources estimate the film cost about $45 million.
Marketing for “Pitch Perfect 3” is aimed at the young female audience, which supported the 2012 original with $287 million worldwide. Universal partnered with NBC’s “The Voice” for the first-ever full-length music video in the history of the show on Nov. 21, which was promoted across the Comcast family of channels including NBC, USA, E!, Bravo and OWN as well as on Xfinity, Snapchat and Fandango. The stars made numerous broadcast appearances in support of the film.
Paramount is launching “Downsizing” on Dec. 22 at about 2,600 North American locations with box office expectations in the $10 million to $12 million range during the Friday-Monday period. The film is directed by Alexander Payne and stars Matt Damon, Christoph Waltz, Hong Chau and Kristen Wiig.
“Downsizing” is set in a near future in which, as a solution to over-population, Norwegian scientists discover how to shrink humans to five inches tall. That creates a miniaturized world where money goes much further. The R-rated movie premiered at the Venice, Telluride and Toronto film festivals and is aimed at the adult demographic, much like Paramount did with “The Big Short” two years ago.
“Pitch Perfect 3” and “Downsizing” will begin showing in Thursday night previews that will start at 7 p.m. on Dec. 21.
Warner Bros. is also releasing “Father Figures” on Dec. 22 at about 2,800 venues as part of its output deal with Alcon Entertainment. Forecasts for the four-day Friday-Monday period are about $10 million. The film has an estimated price tag of $25 million.
Sports analyst and Hall of Fame NFL quarterback Terry Bradshaw plays himself as a potential dad to twin brothers, portrayed by Helms and Wilson, who are searching for their father after their mother (played by Glenn Close) reveals that she’s been lying to them about who their father was. Lawrence Sher directed the film — formerly called “Bastards” — with Ivan Reitman, Alcon Entertainment’s Andrew Kosove and Broderick Johnson, Ali Bell and Tom Pollock producing.
Sony will launch the year’s final wide release on Christmas Day with “All the Money in the World” at about 2,000 sites. Director Ridley Scott managed to revamp the thriller in six weeks, completely cutting Spacey from the film following sexual harassment and assault allegations waged against the actor. He persuaded Plummer to replace Spacey as J. Paul Getty in the story of the 1973 kidnapping of John Paul Getty III.
Also on Christmas Day, STXfilms is launching Jessica Chastain’s “Molly’s Game” at about 250 locations with plans to go wide on Jan. 5. The Mark Gordon Company produced the film, marking Aaron Sorkin’s feature directorial debut, and STXfilms acquired U.S. and Chinese distribution rights for $9 million.