"The Hunger Games: Mockingjay — Part 1," the Lionsgate sequel expected to win the Thanksgiving weekend box office race, began its holiday feast early by earning a studio-estimated $14.5 million on Wednesday, raising its cumulative U.S. and Canadian gross to an estimated $157.6 million.
The Times earlier reported that the film could add between $55 million and $60 million in ticket sales from Wednesday through Sunday, according to people who have seen prerelease audience surveys.
"Mockingjay" had a healthy lead Wednesday over the 20th Century Fox-distributed "Penguins of Madagascar," the spinoff of DreamWorks Animation’s "Madagascar" franchise. The PG-rated film opened to an estimated $6.3 million Wednesday.
The studio hopes the film will gross between $45 million and $49 million over the long weekend.
"Horrible Bosses 2," which began screening Tuesday evening, nabbed an estimated $4.3 million on Wednesday. The raunchy, R-rated Warner Bros. comedy was pegged to gross $40 million or more in the U.S. and Canada through Sunday, according to those who have seen prerelease audience surveys.
This time last year, the holiday box office exploded with “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire” and Disney’s “Frozen." The films broke records previously held by “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone” for the highest Thanksgiving weekend grosses.
"Frozen” pulled in $93 million over the five-day holiday. "Catching Fire,” which was in its second weekend, added $110.2 million
Times staff writer Saba Hamedy contributed to this report.