The theatrical box office success of the most recent film in the Jumanji franchise, Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle, has come as a surprise. “Jumanji is an unqualified, out-and-out home run,” says Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst for ComScore. “I don’t think anyone saw that coming.”
The film is a reboot of the 1995 Jumanji feature film starring Robin Williams; both movies are based on the picture book authored by Chris Van Allsburg and published by Houghton Mifflin in 1981. “Chris’s inimitable books continue to inspire beyond the books into other mediums of storytelling,” says Cat Onder, senior v-p and publisher of HMH Books for Young Readers. She reports that the Jumanji 30th Anniversary Edition (2011) has seen increased sales following Welcome to the Jungle; there are no movie tie-ins. (HMH declined to provide sales figures.)
Dergarabedian notes that reboots often fall short of the original in both critical and box office success. In the case of Welcome to the Jungle, however, the movie generated positive audience feedback—four and a half out of five stars in ComScore’s PostTrak polling—and had two reliable box office draws in Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and Kevin Hart, both of whom promoted the film heavily. The movie also built positive buzz on social media. “It could not get to this level of box office or this long-term playability without a story the audience likes,” Dergarabedian adds. Another factor is that Welcome to the Jungle is what he calls a “four quadrant” film, appealing to young and old, male and female.
The movie followed the unusual trajectory of building on its box office take over time, rather than experiencing diminishing returns after its opening weekend, as is typical. “It ascended to the top spot in its third weekend,” Dergarabedian says. “This flies in the face of convention in terms of how box office plays out.” All told, Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle has generated $295.4 million in cumulative box office take in North America since its release on December 20, 2017, and more than $674.3 million globally. (The first Jumanji movie generated $100.4 million in North America over its theatrical lifespan.)
The recent film’s accomplishment is even more notable considering that it came out five days after the release of Star Wars: The Last Jedi—which has exceeded $1.3 billion in global box office—as well as amid the end-of-year releases of a number of Oscar contenders.