'Mockingjay — Part 1' unexpectedly slow at Friday domestic box office

Box office: 'Mockingjay — Part 1' leads the way but falls short of earlier 'Hunger Games' installments

There was no doubt which film would be the last one standing in the battle for the Friday box office. The only question was if “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay — Part 1” could match its own franchise’s previous performances.

“Mockingjay” shot its way to the top with an estimated $55 million in domestic ticket sales Friday, far and away the night’s best performer. The film, the latest in the YA-dystopian franchise, played on 4,151 screens in the U.S., for an average of $13,250 per screen.

These figures put “Mockingjay” on track to be the year’s biggest opener, handily beating the $41.9-million Friday haul by “Transformers: Age of Extinction” this summer and well-poised to best the fighting robots flick's $100-million weekend take. Early tracking service estimates suggest a domestic opening of $125 million to $130 million for “Mockingjay.”

These numbers hide a notable decline, however, from the opening performance of the first two “Hunger Games” installments. “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire” opened with $158.1 million last year, and “The Hunger Games” hit $152.5 million two years ago. The Friday tally comes after a reported $17-million gross from Thursday domestic showings.

In the international market, the film has grossed $67.5 million over three days of release that’s hit 85 total markets. That’s better than each of the previous two installments did over the same time frame.

The PG-13 film, directed by Francis Lawrence, again stars Jennifer Lawrence as she leads a rebellion against the all-powerful Capitol government. It costars Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth, Woody Harrelson, Elizabeth Banks, Julianne Moore, Jena Malone and the late Philip Seymour Hoffman. Reviews have been mixed for the film, the first of a two-part conclusion to the book series trilogy, turning in an average of 67% on Rotten Tomatoes.

Other leading performers of Friday included “Big Hero 6,” with $4.5-million haul, and “Dumb and Dumber To,” which pulled in $4.3 million. “Interstellar” and “Gone Girl” rounded out the top five. 

Twitter: @AugustBrown

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