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Sony Has a Hit With ‘Peter Rabbit’ as ‘Jumanji’ Becomes Its New Biggest Franchise

The final weekend before Marvel blows everyone away had many interesting narratives. 
By  · Published on February 12th, 2018

The final weekend before Marvel blows everyone away had many interesting narratives.

Three new movies hit wide release this past weekend, all of them panned by critics, and they collectively topped the box office. Their stories are each very different and worth telling, as are a few other notable continued successes, in the final week before the first major blockbuster of 2018 makes its debut.

First, in the number one spot is Fifty Shades Freed. The third of the E.L. James adaptations originating as Twilight fan fiction wound up with the worst domestic opening of the trilogy, $38.6M, which was just about what was expected. Interestingly enough, though, the movie returned the franchise to the top of the box office after the first sequel, Fifty Shades Darker, debuted at number two this same time last year. Freed also managed to get a single point higher Rotten Tomatoes score (11%) than Darker. Ultimately, though, this is a series of severely diminishing returns.

Coming in second was the latest live-action/CG-animation hybrid family film, and how unfortunate that the very positively reviewed Paddington 2 only opened to $11M but the negatively received Peter Rabbit debuted with $25M, overshooting recent forecasts that it’d do under $20M. Does it say something about Americans that audiences here would prefer the violent and crude PG movie where a rabbit sodomizes a farmer with a carrot (and that’s offensive to people with food allergies) to the wholesome PG movie with messages of compassion and kindness? The former gave Will Gluck his best start yet, and we can bet there will be a Peter Rabbit 2.

In third place, underperforming compared to predictions with just $12.6M, was The 15:17 to Paris, which really isn’t that bad for Clint Eastwood. his last two movies, Sully and American Sniper, were special exceptions, but otherwise his streak with biopics and other dramas based on true stories has been pretty consistent around this same figure. Jersey Boys did $14.7M (adjusted for inflation) in Summer 2014, J. Edgar opened with $13.2M (adjusted) in Fall 2011, Hereafter (fictional but partly focused on two real tragedies) took $13.8M (adjusted) a year earlier, and Invictus was $10.4M (adjusted) the year before that. It doesn’t matter that The 15:17 to Paris is Eastwood’s worst-reviewed movie in almost 30 years.

One other new release worth mentioning is the program of Oscar-nominated short films, which came in 25th place over the weekend with $695K. That’s slightly up from last year’s $692K and ShortsTV even put the films in fewer theaters this year. So its per-screen average is also up compared to the 2017 program. Mostly, though, it’s a common average figure for this special presentation while being relatively up in its debut compared to other years since the distributor has begun putting the contending shorts from the three categories into theaters. The crop of films this year is better than usual, in my opinion, so hopefully it can take in the highest total gross yet by the end of March.

In non-new movie box office narratives, it’s fantastic that both Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle and The Greatest Showman are still in the top five and going strong. It’s rare enough for one movie to have opened at what turns out to be less than 10% of its total domestic gross (and counting) but for both of them to now be at 9.9% and 6%, respectively, is astonishing. The latter is among the leggiest movies of all time. And Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle might be the leggiest sequel not from the Star Wars franchise.

Speaking of the Jumanji success, the movie just passed fellow Sony movies Spectre and Spider-Man: Homecoming on the worldwide box office chart (current total: $883.4M), meaning it’s now basically the studio’s reigning top franchise, overcoming both James Bond and Spider-Man. It hasn’t topped the former’s installment Skyfall or the latter’s Spider-Man 3, but it’s still significant that it’s surpassed the latest installments. As for domestic, with adjustment made for inflation, Bond still wins with Thunderball and Goldfinger and Spidey still wins with Spider-ManSpider-Man 2, and Spider-Man 3Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle is now the fifth highest-grossing movie of 2017 and might soon take fourth place away from Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2.

Overall, the weekend was down from last year and 2018 is down generally to date compared to the last five years. But next week Black Panther will come out and offer at least a temporarily remedy for box office grosses.

Here is the weekend top 10 with new titles in bold and domestic totals in parentheses:

1. Fifty Shades Freed – $38.6M ($38.6M)
2. Peter Rabbit – $25M ($25M)
3. The 15:17 to Paris – $12.6M ($12.6M)
4. Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle – $10M ($365.9M)
5. The Greatest Showman – $6.4M ($146.6M)
6. Maze Runner: The Death Cure – $6.2M ($49.2M)
7. Winchester – $5.1M ($17.3M)
8. The Post – $3.6M ($73M)
9. The Shape of Water – $3.2M ($49.9M)
10. Den of Thieves – $3M ($41.1M)

All box office figures via Box Office Mojo.

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Christopher Campbell began writing film criticism and covering film festivals for a zine called Read, back when a zine could actually get you Sundance press credentials. He's now a Senior Editor at FSR and the founding editor of our sister site Nonfics. He also regularly contributes to Fandango and Rotten Tomatoes and is the President of the Critics Choice Association's Documentary Branch.