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Jumanji sequel to go toe-to-toe with Star Wars Episode IX

Would you rather head back to the jungle, or a galaxy far, far away?

There's no denying it: Sony surprised everyone with the success of Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle, which the studio released as counter-programming to Star Wars: The Last Jedi in December. 

While the Star Wars sequel dominated the box office at first, the Jumanji sequel held its own against the Disney/Lucasfilm juggernaut, earning $317 million domestically on its way to becoming the top-rated film in the country—a ranking it maintains after five weeks in theaters. (The Last Jedi, released five days before Jumanji, currently sits at 8th place with a domestic gross of over $604 million.)

It's certainly not the outcome most expected from the matchup, with movies premiering against Star Wars sequels typically being written off as sacrificial lambs, according to conventional wisdom. Sony's confidence in the family-friendly adventure led them to roll the dice on a Christmas release, Star Wars be damned — as Sony exec Tom Rothman put it to The Wall Street Journal, "I thought we could spit in the giant's eye."

And spit in the giant's eye they did, as well as the eyes of every hater who doubted the picture's prospects in the lead-up to release. Jumanji's unconventional path to success, buoyed by strong word-of-mouth, has made it the first movie to open nationwide below the number one spot and go on to gross over $300 million domestically. 

Now, emboldened by the movie's good fortunes, Sony intends to see if lightning can strike twice for their revamped franchise. According to WSJ, Sony now intends to develop a second Jumanji sequel for release around Christmas 2019 — this time, facing off against the upcoming Star Wars: Episode IX, due out on December 20.

It's an unexpected match-up, to be certain, but not as unexpected as the fact that we might now actually be excited for a Jumanji sequel — something that seemed pretty unlikely just months ago.

Star Wars: Episode IX will be preceded in release by Solo: A Star Wars Story, due out May 25. No details about Jumanji 3 are currently available, so for now, check out the alternate endings to Welcome to the Jungle that Sony almost went with.