Sony Pictures Entertainment is looking at success beyond the box office as Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle holds firm at the top of the charts. The new adaptation of the famous 1995 titular film has skyrocketed past all expectations during its time in theatres. Early critics felt a forced revival of the classic film would see some of Hollywood’s biggest names fall flat on the silver screen. In an age where remakes, sequels, and generally uninventive screenplays sit rent-free in local cinemas, predicting the hits can be as difficult as predicting the Powerball numbers.
Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle stands atop countless charts, most recently surpassing Justice League on the worldwide box office. Total revenues for MLK weekend are disputed by various reports, but the overall tally is now north of $666 million. The majority of sales came from American theatres. North America’s dominance in movies still demands an international presence, and the movie has now cruised to over $40 million from the Chinese demographic.
A more concentrated effort from Sony over the past few years has been defined by a heavy push for diversity. Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle was headlined by a comedy pair that’s become so familiar in Hollywood that many forget where the usual line is drawn. Dwayne Johnson continues his return to the big screen from the past couple years alongside global, stand-up love Kevin Hart.
Johnson, while born in California, boasts about his Samoan heritage. In addition to his Polynesian descent, Johnson’s father’s bloodline offers a look into Black Nova Scotian heritage. Hart provides a clear-cut look into the life of a Philadelphia native. More in tune with his impact, he represents the new wave of black actors in Hollywood. The likes of Denzel Washington, Will Smith, Forrest Whitaker, and Samuel L. Jackson have been staples on the silver screen for decades. After decades in prominence, they become just “other” names on the boulevard. With the veterans aging out of many available roles, the new wave of actors has moved into focus…and Kevin Hart is at the front.
Sony has seen a greater return from the Johnson/Hart duo than Warner Bros. did with Central Intelligence, and this looks to only be a stepping stone for the entertainment mogul. Johnson will remain in the inner workings as the company continues work on the much-anticipated Son of Shaolin. He is among the leading figures from Seven Bucks Production and is working alongside director Rick Famuyiwa. It remains to be seen whether or not he will have a role on screen. Regardless, his influence on the story should be noteworthy.
Son of Shaolin already catches the attention of many enthusiasts as a cross-cultural combination that balances the Chinese notes found in Shaolin Kung Fu and the rasps of turmoil echoing from the streets of Harlem. In an age of tales losing their identity to “whitewashing” and standard Hollywood selling points, there are major points of conflict that will hopefully be fulfilled upon final release.
The acquisition of the graphic novel, though limited in scope, represents years of work from the higher-ups at Sony. Disney made waves around New Year’s with their acquisition of FOX and all of its subsidiaries. Pushing to new lengths with the addition of Marvel, Star Wars, and now FOX; Sony’s efforts towards brand realignment are becoming more apparent.
Amidst a competitor’s extensive spending for the trendy brands and increasing pressure to address social issues, Sony is making the wise decision to push towards influential diversity within their releases. The early steps with a short-term impact are both Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle and Son of Shaolin. Johnson stands as the headlining name with both on- and off-screen appeal. Jumanji’s success has already demonstrated that Sony’s new take can be successful as long as certain Hollywood clichés are still included. International box offices bought into a simple remake and expectations for Son of Shaolin will only grow as details are released.