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‘Jumanji’ fights off competition to keep No. 1 spot

Jan 16,2018

NEW YORK - Meryl Streep, Liam Neeson, Taraji P. Henson and Paddington Bear and all rushed into movie theaters over Martin Luther King Jr. weekend, but “Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle” still roared the loudest with an estimated $27 million in ticket sales, Friday to Sunday.

“Jumanji” easily remained the No. 1 film in North America despite an onslaught of new challengers, according to studio estimates Sunday. The Sony Pictures release is now approaching $300 million domestically and, after grossing $40 million in China this weekend, a worldwide total of $667 million.

Coming closest was Steven Spielberg’s Pentagon Papers drama “The Post,” starring Streep as Washington Post publisher Katharine Graham and Tom Hanks as editor Ben Bradlee. Twentieth Century Fox is forecasting $18.6 million for the weekend and $22.2 million for the four-day holiday.

It’s a solid result for “The Post” in its nationwide expansion following several weeks of limited release. Made for about $50 million and fast-tracked after the election of President Donald Trump, “The Post” is considered by many a timely commentary on the power of the press, and a rebuke of Trump from some of Hollywood’s biggest names.

“It resonates with an older audience because they were around and remember this particular moment in time,” said Fox distribution chief Chris Aronson.

Fox and “The Post” will hope the strong box office results help resuscitate the film’s Oscar momentum. The movie went home empty-handed at last weekend’s Golden Globes and wasn’t nominated by the BAFTA Awards. Oscar nomination voting ended Friday.

Landing in third was the Neeson thriller “The Commuter,” a Lionsgate release in partnership with Studiocanal. The modest $13.5 million opening for the film - Neeson’s fourth with director Jaume Collet-Serra - suggested some of the thrill of Neeson’s action-movie period, kicked off 10 years ago with the $145 million hit “Taken,” may be waning.

The children’s book adaptation sequel “Paddington 2” opened with $10.6 million. The film, originally to be distributed in North America over the Christmas holiday by The Weinstein Co., was sold to Warner Bros. after any association with the disgraced Weinstein Co. co-chairman Harvey Weinstein was deemed toxic for the film.

The juggled rollout of the movie - plus the breakout success of “Jumanji” as the go-to family film - may have hurt “Paddington 2.” Despite rave reviews, it did about half the $19 million debut of its 2015 predecessor. It’s done better overseas, where it’s grossed $139.8 million thus far.

AP