(This Dec. 15 story corrects headline to give full name of new Jumanji movie)
By Rebecca Rubin
LOS ANGELES, (Variety.com) - It's shaping up to be a merry holiday season for "Jumanji: The Next Level." Sony's adventure sequel debuted in first place to $60.1 million, dethroning "Frozen" after three consecutive weeks as box office champ.
Those ticket sales, at the higher end of industry projections, represent a healthy jump on its predecessor, 2017's "Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle" ($36 million). It also marks the highest debut for a December comedy, as well as the best start for live-action movie for stars Kevin Hart and Jack Black.
It's a decidedly less jovial time for fellow new movies, Warner Bros. "Richard Jewell" and Universal's "Black Christmas." Heading into the weekend, both films were expected to earn at least $10 million. Instead, the pair combined barely hit that number. On the plus side, December releases don't typically have huge openings ("Star Wars" movies aside) but can have long legs in theaters throughout the holiday season.
"Richard Jewell," the latest offering from director Clint Eastwood, tumbled out of the gate in fourth place $5 million from 2,502 theaters. Those uninspired box office receipts rank among the worst in recent history for Eastwood.
Starring Paul Walter Hauser, Sam Rockwell, Kathy Bates, Jon Hamm and Olivia Wilde, the biographical drama is based on the security guard falsely accused by the media for playing a part in the 1996 Olympics bombing. "Richard Jewell" has been making headlines of its own after it found itself in the center of controversy over its portrayal of a female journalist trading sex for scoops.
"Black Christmas," a slasher film that opened on Friday the 13th, debuted at No. 5 and collected $4.4 million from 2,625 screens.
Disney's "Frozen 2" slid to second place, generating a solid $19.2 million in its fourth weekend of release. The animated sequel crossed the $1 billion mark globally, the sixth Disney movie to do so this year. In North America, "Frozen 2" has made $366 million and stands as the 11th-biggest animated film ever.
In third place, Lionsgate's murder mystery "Knives Out" brought in another $9.25 million for a domestic tally of $78.9 million.
Among specialty releases, the Safdie brothers' "Uncut Gems" set a new record for A24, earning $525,498 from five theaters. That averages out to $105,100 per location, making it the biggest opening ever for the studio. The high-intensity thriller has earned critical acclaim, especially for Adam Sandler's performance as a New York jeweler dealing with repercussions from a high-stakes bet.
Another awards hopeful, Lionsgate's "Bombshell," kicked off in limited release. The drama, based on female Fox News anchors who went public with sexual harassment allegations against Roger Ailes, ignited with $312,000 from four screens, translating to $78,000 from each venue. Women represented nearly 60% of ticket buyers, while 86% of audiences were over the age of 25.