After ten months with just a single movie grossing more than $300 million domestically, all eyes were on the third installment of Suzanne Collins’ blockbuster franchise, The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 (Lionsgate) to “save” the box office. It’s not like we haven’t had numerous blockbusters over the course of the year with many $90 to 100 million openers, but the only movie to cross the $300 million mark domestically was Marvel Studios’ Guardians of the Galaxy, and that was very much a surprise sleeper which did far better than anyone expected.
With most of the cast returning from last year’s The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, including Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth, Sam Claflin, Woody Harrelson, Elizabeth Banks, Donald Sutherland and the late Philip Seymour Hoffman in his final performance, the first part of the finale had them joined by Julianne Moore, Natalie Dormer and a few others. It was mainly seen as a set-up for the true finale next year, which may account for its softer opening than expected.
It opened on Friday with $55 million, including $17 million from Thursday previews, and that was already down from Catching Fire, which made more than $70 million its opening day. With a small drop on Saturday, The Hunger Games ended up with an estimated $123 million in 4,151 theaters or $29,631 per location. That’s $35 million less than the $158 million opening weekend for Catching Fire and almost $30 million less than the opening for the original The Hunger Games back in March 2012. Even so, Mockingjay – Part 1 can claim the largest opening weekend of the year, surpassing Transformers: Age of Extinction‘s $100 million opening, and it’s one of the Top 15 domestic openings of all time.
Internationally, the latest “Hunger Games” fared better than the previous movie, opening in 85 overseas markets where it grossed $152 million, up 4% from “Catching Fire.” Some of the standouts included the UK with nearly $20 million, Germany with $13.7 million, Mexico with $12.1 million, Russia with $11.1 million and Australia with $10.1 million. Added together, that’s an absolutely incredible global opening weekend of $275 million.
Remaining in second place with a decent 58% hold from last week was the animated adventure Big Hero 6 (Walt Disney Animation), which took in $20.1 million to bring its domestic total to $135.7 million. It added another $7 million internationally to take its global total to $185 million, although it’s only in 19% of the rest of the world so far.
Christopher Nolan’s star-studded outer space epic Interstellar (Paramount) also held its place in third with $15.1 million, down 47%, as it brought its domestic gross to $120.7 million.
Last week’s #1, the reunion of the Farrelly Brothers with Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels for Dumb and Dumber To (Universal) took a nasty tumble to fourth place with $13.8 million, down a shocking 62%, showing that most of the fans looking forward to see it rushed out opening weekend. It has grossed $57.5 million and it’s dubious that it will see $100 million even with the holidays coming up.
David Fincher’s hit thriller Gone Girl (20th Century Fox) remained in fifth place–its 8th weekend in the Top 5–with $2.8 million and $156.8 million grossed so far in North America alone.
Gina Prince-Blythewood’s romantic drama Beyond the Lights (Relativity), starring Gugu Mbatha-Raw and Nate Parker, took sixth place with $2.6 million, down 58% from its opening weekend thanks to the “Hunger Games” competition, with $10.1 million total.
The Bill Murray-Melissa McCarthy sleeper hit St. Vincent (TWC) added another $2.3 million in its seventh weekend in theaters, bringing its own total to $36.6 million.
The rest of the Top 10 made less than $2 million, which allowed Focus Features to get their awards contender The Theory of Everything, starring Eddie Redmayne as Professor Stephen Hawking and Felicity Jones as his wife Jane, into the Top 10 with just $1.5 million in 150 theaters. We can probably expect that one to go even wider for the Thanksgiving holiday weekend to keep the momentum going for the early awards and nominations announced the following week.
As one might expect, with Mockingjay not doing as well as last year’s Catching Fire, the box office was down about 14% ($30 million) from this same weekend last year, the first down weekend in months, with the Top 10 films accounting for about $185 million.