‘The Post’ Soars for Fox, ‘Jumanji’ Stays Box Office No. 1By
Golden Globe nominations help lift Pentagon Papers drama
Liam Neeson’s new action film ‘The Commuter’ comes in third
“The Post” registered a 10-fold increase in weekend box-office sales over the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday, with the awards contender from 21st Century Fox Inc. outdrawing three new releases.
The drama about the Pentagon Papers generated $18.6 million in revenue from North American theaters over the first three days of the long weekend, researcher ComScore Inc. estimated in an email Sunday. Coming in second, it placed ahead of “Paddington 2,” “Proud Mary” and “The Commuter.” Sony Corp.’s “Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle” retained the top spot with $27 million.
Fox expanded screenings of Steven Spielberg’s film about the Washington Post’s battle over First Amendment rights to more theaters to exploit publicity from last weekend’s Golden Globe awards. The movie features Meryl Streep and Tom Hanks as publisher Katharine Graham and executive editor Ben Bradlee. It was nominated for five Golden Globes, but didn’t win any.
With “The Post,” Fox has at least three potential contenders for the best picture Oscar, along with “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri” and “The Shape of Water.” While such films are often low-revenue, art-house features, a savvy release strategy can boost public interest and tickets sales.
“The Post” opened on Dec. 22 and had taken in just $4.3 million in sales heading into the weekend, including $1.7 million during Jan. 5-7. But Fox added more than 2,000 new locations this weekend. The movie still has a way to go to break even, given a production budget estimated $50 million by Box Office Mojo and the usual marketing costs.
“Jumanji” opened in China in first place, with weekend sales of $40 million. That topped “Star Wars: The Last Jedi’s” recent $28.7 million debut weekend in the country, currently the world’s No. 2 movie market.
In North America, “Jumanji” was expected to collect $34 million in sales over the four-day holiday weekend, while “The Post” was projected at $21 million, according to analysts at BoxOfficePro.com.
Liam Neeson’s new action film, “The Commuter,” opened with weekend sales of $13.5 million for Lions Gate Entertainment Corp., placing third. The film split critics, with 54 percent delivering positive reviews. Neeson stars as a businessman lured into a criminal scheme while on a train. The film was expected to bring in $13.5 million over four days.
“Paddington 2,” a sequel to the Warner Bros. 2015 live-action film based on the classic British children’s book, opened in seventh place with $10.6 million. It was forecast to take in $16 million over three days and $20 million over four, according to Box Office Mojo. The movie scored 100 percent positive reviews, according to RottenTomatoes.com.
In this installment, the Peruvian bear with a passion for marmalade saves up for a special present for Aunt Lucy’s 100th birthday, only for the gift to be stolen. Time Warner Inc.’s film division bought the movie from the Weinstein Co. for $32 million, as the embattled producer sold assets to raise cash late last year.
Taraji P. Henson, best known for her role in the Fox TV drama series “Empire,” stars as a hitwoman in “Proud Mary,” which collected $10 million and placed eighth for Sony Pictures. BoxOfficePro was predicting $17.5 million over four days. The film cost an estimated $14 million to produce, not including marketing costs, according to BoxOfficeMojo. Critics were mostly negative, with just 27 percent positive at RottenTomatoes.