The Hunger Games Satisfies Hungry Thanksgiving Moviegoers Again

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For a second year in a row, moviegoers rushed into theaters following their Thanksgiving feasts to quench their appetite for movies and once again, the Suzanne Collins-based franchise was the big winner, as The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1 (Lionsgate) remained #1 for a second weekend in a row with an estimated $57 million for the three-day weekend and $88.7 million including Wednesday and Thursday. This is a similar 53% drop-off to last year’s The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, which earned $74.2 million over the three-day weekend and $110 million in five days.

So far, Mockingjay – Part 1 has grossed $226 million domestically, which is $70 million less than where Catching Fire was after ten days in release.

Internationally, Mockingjay – Part 1 added another $67 million, passing the $250 million mark in its 86 territories. It remained #1 in the UK with $8.2 million this weekend and $33 million total. Germany added another $7 million for a $23.4 million total, while other countries also held well without having the Thanksgiving holiday weekend. 

DreamWorks Animation offered the animated spin-off movie The Penguins of Madagascar, featuring the voices of Tom McGrath, Benedict Cumberbatch, Ken Jeong and more. After grossing $6.3 million on Wednesday and another $4 million on Thursday, it brought in an estimated $25.8 million over the weekend and $36 million in its first five days. That’s only slightly better than DreamWorks Animation’s last Thanksgiving release, Rise of the Guardians, two years ago (their last film distributed by Paramount), and that went on to gross $103.4 million in its theatrical release, one of DWA’s worst-performing CG animated films to date.

This follows the disappointing underperformance of the sequel How to Train Your Dragon 2 over the summer, which grossed $177 million domestic, not enough to cover its production budget without the additional $442 million made internationally. That followed the similarly low opening for Mr. Peabody & Sherman, which grossed $111 million during the spring. Penguins grossed slightly more in five days than DreamWorks Animation’s previous spin-off Puss in Boots did in three days in 2011; that went on to gross $149 million, an amount that would be a reach for DWA’s latest. 

Despite the new DreamWorks Animation movie, one of the holiday season’s bigger hits, the animated Big Hero 6 (Walt Disney Animation), held up well in third place with $18.8 million over the weekend, down just 6% from last weekend, as it brought its domestic total to $167 million after four weeks. Internationally, it added another $4.8 million in 20% of the world markets bringing its global box office to $224 million with many big territories like China, Japan, the UK and much of Europe still to see the well-rated film’s release.

Christopher Nolan’s Interstellar (Paramount) also held up well in its fourth weekend with $15.8 million over the three-day weekend (up 3%) and $147.1 million grossed domestically in the same period of release as Big Hero 6. An astounding $91 million of Interstellar‘s global box office can be credited to its IMAX release with another $7.8 million added domestically over the last five days on 370 IMAX screens.

2014 has seen a number of disappointing sequels that didn’t fare as well as the original movies and they were joined this weekend by the R-rated comedy sequel, Horrible Bosses 2 (New Line/WB), reuniting Jason Bateman, Jason Sudeikis, Charlie Day, Jennifer Aniston, Kevin Spacey and Jamie Foxx from the 2011 comedy hit, joined by Christoph Waltz and Chris Pine. After opening in third place Wednesday with $4.3 million in 3,375 theaters, it dropped to fifth for the weekend with $15.7 million and $23 million in its first five days. That’s $5 million less than the original Horrible Bosses made in its 3-day opening in the summer of 2011, although it was a risky move by New Line to make the sequel the first R-rated comedy to ever open over Thanksgiving weekend. 

The Jim Carrey-Jeff Daniels reunion in the comedy sequel Dumb and Dumber To (Universal), written by the same team behind Horrible Bosses 2, dropped to sixth place with $8.3 million over the weekend (down 41%) with $11.6 million over the five days from Wednesday. It has grossed $72 million since opening three weeks ago, although it’s unlikely to reach the $127 million grossed by the original movie (which doesn’t even account for twenty years of inflation).

After entering the top 10 last weekend, The Theory of Everything, starring Eddie Redmayne and Felicity Jones, expanded nationwide into 802 theaters where it took in $5.1 million over the three-day weekend and $6.4 million including Wednesday and Thursday. The drama, about noted physicist Dr. Stephen Hawking, has grossed $9.1 million so far and should continue to play well with the first wave of awards and nominations being announced next week.

David Fincher’s hit thriller Gone Girl (20th Century Fox) continued its fantastic run with its ninth weekend in the top 10, adding another $2.5 million to its total domestic box office to $160.7 million, $30 million more than Fincher’s previous highest-grossing movie, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

The final slots in the top 10 were taken up by Alejandro Inarritu’s Birdman (Fox Searchlight) and the Bill Murray-Melissa McCarthy comedy St. Vincent (TWC) with less than $2 million each.

The Top 10 grossed approximately $153 million over the three-day weekend and $218 million including Wednesday and Thursday, which was down considerably from last year when The Hunger Games: Catching Fire fared better with $110 million over the five-day holiday facing much stronger competition in Disney’s Frozen, which took second place while becoming one of the biggest Thanksgiving openers with $93.6 million in 3,742 theaters in its first five days in wide release. It would move into the #1 slot twice in its successive run to $400 million domestically, remaining in the Top 10 for a whopping sixteen weeks.

Opening on Friday in New York and Los Angeles after receiving festival and critical acclaim, the biopic The Imitation Game (TWC), starring Benedict Cumberbatch as WWII codebreaker Alan Turing along with Keira Knightley, Matthew Goode and others, scored $482,000 in four theaters, averaging $120,500 per location.