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Box office: 'In the Heart of the Sea' could be sunk by 'Mockingjay' (and 'Star Wars')

Box office: 'In the Heart of the Sea' could be sunk by 'Mockingjay' (and 'Star Wars')
Chris Hemsworth, right, and Sam Keeley in a scene from "In the Heart of the Sea." (Jonathan Prime / Warner Bros. Pictures)

Can "In the Heart of the Sea" stay afloat in a slow weekend at the multiplex?

That's the question facing Ron Howard's 19th century whaling movie, which grossed an estimated $3.8 million Friday, according to Box Office Mojo. Analysts had earlier projected that the Warner Bros. film, starring Chris Hemsworth and based on the true story that inspired "Moby Dick," would pull in as much as $15 million by Sunday.

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Yet Friday's performance had experts revising those expectations.

Industry sources partly attributed the soft opening to the "Star Wars" effect. "The Force Awakens," the feverishly anticipated addition to the space-adventure series, opens Dec. 18 but is already distracting moviegoers from other, lower-profile offerings, analysts said.

Initially expected to debut at No. 1, "In the Heart of the Sea" may now finish the weekend behind "The Hunger Games: Mockingjay -- Part 2," which took in $3.3 million Friday, according to estimates.

The Lionsgate film starring Jennifer Lawrence has topped the box office in each of its first three weeks of release; so far, it's grossed $236 million in the U.S. and Canada.

Other movies finishing in the top 5 going into the weekend were "Creed" (with estimated ticket sales of $3 million), "Krampus" ($2.5 million) and "The Good Dinosaur" ($2.3 million).

Twitter: @mikaelwood

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