The Christmas holiday started early for moviegoers, with five new weekend releases for fans seeking something other than the latest Star Wars flick. The choices included a remake of Jumanji, a Matt Damon fantasy-comedy, and a picture about circus showman P.T. Barnum.
Star Wars: The Last Jedi, Walt Disney Co.'s space adventure, led the domestic box office for a second weekend as expected, with North American ticket sales of $68.5 million, according to estimates Sunday from researcher ComScore Inc. After opening Wednesday, Sony Corp.'s Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle, collected Friday-to-Sunday revenue of $34 million, more than expected.
The weekends around Christmas are among the busiest for theaters. Exhibitors count on filling a lot of seats, even if a couple of the new movies were dubbed turkeys by critics.
Jumanji was one of the better-reviewed new movies in wide release. Starring Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, Kevin Hart, Jack Black and Karen Gillan, the film came in second over the weekend.
The movie is a remake of the 1995 Robin Williams fantasy with a twist. In the original, Williams' character is freed from a board game where he's been trapped for years. In this version, four teenagers discover an old video game and are pulled into its jungle setting.
The new Jumanji got a 78 percent favorable rating at RottenTomatoes.com, which consolidates critics' reviews. BoxOfficePro.com predicted sales of $25 million to $30 million for the three-day weekend and a total of $39 million through Christmas Day.
Pitch Perfect 3, a sequel from Comcast Corp.'s Universal Pictures starring Ann Kendrick, opened with weekend sales of $20.5 million to place third, coming in at the low end of BoxOfficePro's estimate of $20 million to $25 million.
In the new movie, the singing Bellas reunite for a last competition. RottenTomatoes gave a low 27 percent rating to the film, which was expected to produce extended weekend sales of $34 million through Christmas Day.
The Greatest Showman, from 21st Century Fox Inc., features Australian actor Hugh Jackman as circus ringmaster and businessman P.T. Barnum. The film, which opened Wednesday, generated sales of $8.6 million, matching BoxOfficePro's estimate of $7.5 million to $10 million.
Critics were split, giving the picture a 51 percent favorable rating. BoxOfficePro was predicting four-day weekend sales of $14 million.
Downsizing opened with weekend sales of $4.6 million for Viacom Inc.'s Paramount Pictures, missing estimates of $6 million to $8 million for the three days.
Damon stars as an occupational therapist who joins a community of people who have shrunk themselves to save the planet and make their buying power go further. The film, from the director of The Descendants and Sideways, garnered a 52 percent positive rating from critics.
Father Figures, distributed by Time Warner Inc.'s Warner Bros., opened with weekend sales of $3.2 million, compared with a forecast of up to $6 million. The film stars Owen Wilson and Ed Helms as fraternal twins on a road trip to find their real father.