Box office: 'Hunger Games: Mockingjay -- Part 1' leads holiday weekend

Box office: 'Hunger Games: Mockingjay -- Part 1' leads holiday weekend
Jennifer Lawrence stars in "The Hunger Games: Mockingjay -- Part 1." (Lionsgate)

Katniss Everdeen and her dystopian revolution against the evil Capitol played strong across the nation Friday as "The Hunger Games: Mockingjay -- Part 1" led the box office, soaring ahead of a clutch of nutty penguins and a puffy, white robot out to stop evil.

“Mockingjay” took in $24.1 million for Lionsgate and stayed out front of the post-Thanksgiving Day competition from two computer-animated adventures that featured villains and sly one-liners from unlikely heroes. “Penguins of Madagascar,” distributed by 20th Century Fox, grossed $10.5 million, followed by “Big Hero 6” from Walt Disney Pictures, which took in $7.7 million.

The films -- one foreboding, two humorous -- unfolded with good guys (and one potent heroine) racing against nefarious forces.  From Ebola to the Islamic State to global warming, the world these days is unsettled about its future, so it seems fitting that Hollywood has produced the dark narrative of "Mockingjay" along with lighter-fare ne'er-do-wells, such as a "madman" octopus in "Penguins" and a 3-D masked man in "Big Hero 6."

The newest installment of the “The Hunger Games” franchise has surpassed $400 million in receipts worldwide since its opening last week. The saga of Katniss pulling arrows from her quiver and leading a revolt in the totalitarian city of Panem speaks as much about the appeal of Jennifer Lawrence as it does about the insecurity of our times. Katniss become Mockingjay, the symbol of a revolution whose outcome, however, won’t be decided until Part II, which is to be released next year.

Based on the bestselling novels of Suzanne Collins, the latest installment in the series has a 66% “fresh” rating from Rotten Tomatoes. The film arrived as the overall Hollywood box office is down about 4% year to date.