‘The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 1’ soars again over 5-day weekend
The Thanksgiving holiday had moviegoers hungry for box office leftovers.
In its second weekend, “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 1” topped the box office again, grossing $82.7 million in the U.S. and Canada over the five-day holiday. The Lionsgate film has pulled in $480 million worldwide to date.
“Mockingjay - Part 1” became the third-highest Thanksgiving five-day gross, falling just behind “Catching Fire” and “Frozen,” which set records last year. It edged ahead of “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone,” which grossed $82.4 million in November of 2001.
The film also marks the fourth time Lionsgate has had the No. 1 film over the Thanksgiving weekend. The Santa Monica-based studio also scored big with “Catching Fire,” and “Twilight” franchise films “Breaking Dawn - Part 1” and “Breaking Dawn - Part 2.”
But the holiday wasn’t as generous to newcomers “Penguins of Madagascar” and “Horrible Bosses 2.”
Twentieth Century Fox’s animated “Penguins of Madagascar” debuted at No. 2 with $36 million. Meanwhile, the Warner Bros.-distributed comedy “Horrible Bosses 2” rounded out the top five with $23 million.
Going into the weekend, the odds were in the “Hunger Games” franchise’s favor. While some critics called “Mockingjay - Part 1” a solid segue, others complained that the two-part approach to the finale feels like a cheap cash-in.
The film opened to $123 million last weekend, surpassing the $100-million debut of “Transformers: Age of Extinction” to become this year’s biggest opening.
It earned a high A-minus rating from audience polling firm CinemaScore and a decent 66% “fresh” rating on review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes.
Unsurprisingly, the young adult franchise has drawn audiences largely younger than 25. Based on the bestselling novels by Suzanne Collins, the “Hunger Games” movies have been huge hits.
“Penguins of Madagascar,” the spinoff of DreamWorks Animation’s Madagascar franchise, also attracted younger audiences and families.
An estimated 58% of moviegoers were younger than 25. Females made up 51% of the audience.
The PG-rated film follows the penguins Skipper, Kowalski, Rico and Private as they work with undercover organization The North Wind to stop Dr. Octavius Brine from destroying the world. Benedict Cumberbatch and John Malkovich voice some of the animated characters.
By comparison, the third installment in the PG-rated “Madagascar” franchise opened with a healthy $60.4 million in 2012. “Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa” opened with $63.1 million in 2008 and ultimately collected $603.9 million worldwide.
“Kids love the movie and there won’t be any new family films for another three or four weeks, which is a good thing for us,” said Chris Aronson, head of domestic distribution at 20th Century Fox.
The film was originally slated for a March 2015 release date, but Fox moved up the opening. Historically, animated films tend to play better over the Thanksgiving holiday.
While the studio hoped the film would open to as much as $45 million over the long weekend, Aronson said he thinks the film will play well into December.
“The marketplace in general is a little soft but I think we’ll overcome that in the next few weeks,” he said. “I think we’re in good shape with the holidays coming up.”
It earned an A-minus rating from audience polling firm CinemaScore and a decent 69% “fresh” rating on review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes.
Meanwhile, raunchy R-rated “Horrible Bosses 2” didn’t end up hitting its $40-million projections. Though it notched a B+ rating on CinemaScore, it earned a 35% “fresh” rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
“The weekend was a little disappointing for us,” said Dan Fellman, president of domestic distribution for Warner Bros. “Tracking had a much higher number…but this is a tough year for R-rated movies and we took a gamble.”
The Sean Anders-directed film, which cost about $43 million to make, brings back comedic trio Nick (Jason Bateman), Kurt (Jason Sudeikis) and Dale (Charlie Day). It also stars Jennifer Aniston, Kevin Spacey, Jamie Fox and Chris Pine.
Like its 2011 predecessor “Horrible Bosses,” which opened to $28.1 million, the film catered to largely older, male audiences. About 59% of moviegoers were older than 25 and males made up 51% of audiences.
Fellman said the film will hopefully play better in the coming weeks.
“I think we’ll get back on track…it just started a little softer than we had anticipated,” he said.
In its sixth weekend at the box office, Disney’s “Big Hero 6” stayed strong at No. 3. The film has grossed $167.2 million in the U.S. and Canada and $56.9 million overseas, making its global haul $224.1 million to date.
Christopher Nolan’s “Interstellar” also held steady at No. 4. It was up 3% from last weekend, adding $22 million over the five-day period. To date, the film has pulled in $147 million in the U.S. and Canada.
Focus Features’ “The Theory of Everything” moved from No. 10 to No. 7 as it expanded into more theaters.
The film, which has a solid 83% “fresh” rating on Rotten Tomatoes, is based on Jane Hawking’s memoir, “Travelling to Infinity: My Life With Stephen.” It stars Eddie Redmayne as Stephen Hawking and Felicity Jones as Hawking’s wife, Jane Wilde.
For the five-day weekend, the film pulled in $6.4 million, making its overall estimated domestic cumulative total about $9.6 million.
In limited release, “The Imitation Game” had the fifth overall highest per screen average of $120,518. The Weinstein Company film, which stars Benedict Cumberbatch and Keira Knightley, has pulled in $482,000 since opening in four theaters in New York and Los Angeles on Friday.
The current box office is down about 4% year to date. But studios and movie chains are still holding out hope that holiday ticket sales in the U.S. and Canada might come close to matching last year’s record of $10.9 billion.
For more news on the entertainment industry, follow me @saba_h
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