It looks like The Hunger Games is not going out on a high note. As we told you yesterday, the final installment in the blockbuster franchise was headed for the lowest domestic opening in the series’ history. Sadly, Katniss did not turn things around in time to avoid that conclusion. According to studio estimates, Mockingjay – Part 2 earned $101 million in its first three days in theatres. That’s 16% behind Mockingjay – Part 1, released on this weekend last year, and 36% behind Catching Fire, which still holds the November record for its $158 million debut in 2013.
This development is a bit of a surprise for those of us who expected Mockingjay 2 to open with at least $120 million – in line with its direct predecessor. The lower-than-expected debut is also surprising when the final bows of other blockbuster franchises are considered. Both The Twilight Saga and Harry Potter split their last installments into two parts, though the boy wizard probably isn’t the best box office correlative for Katniss Everdeen. For better or worse, The Hunger Games has always been measured against Twilight. That franchise began its final run with Breaking Dawn Part 2 in November 2012. Bella and Edward’s last bow opened with $141 million in North America: $3 million more than Breaking Dawn Part 1 and only $2 million behind the series’ all-time record.
But if there’s one thing The Hunger Games has always had over The Twilight Saga it’s box office staying power. The first three films in the HG franchise each realized higher domestic totals than the most successful Twilight film (2010’s Eclipse) and claimed bigger global profits as well. Including this morning’s domestic estimate, Mockingjay–Part 2 has already earned $247 worldwide. Considering that the reported budget for the film is $215 million including marketing, Lionsgate should see a profit even before DVD and streaming revenue kicks in. In other words, the studio isn’t sweating this weekend’s opening.
Here’s a look at the box office history of The Hunger Games franchise:
|The Hunger Games||$67.2||$152.5||$408||$694.3|
|Mockingjay – Part 1||$55.1||$121.89||$337.1||$755.3|
|Mockingjay – Part 2||$46*||101*||—||—|
With The Force Awakens on the horizon, there’s no way to determine how strong Mockingjay 2’s final numbers will be. Like Mockingjay 1, the film earned an A- from CinemaScore audiences and has solid critical reviews (70% on Rotten Tomatoes). That should result in strong holds over the next three weeks, but who really knows?
Katniss aside, there were few points of interest in this weekend’s box office. Spotlight, the true story of the Boston Globe’s investigation of child abuse within the Catholic church, made it into the top ten after expanding to 598 locations on Friday. An early Oscar favorite, Spotlight has earned a total of $5.8 million since opening in 6 theatres earlier this month.
This weekend’s wider releases were much less impressive. Sony’s The Night Before brought in an estimated $10.1 million from 2,960 locations. That’s a bit better than the September 2011 launch of 50/50, which also starred Seth Rogen and Joseph Gordon-Levitt and was directed by Jonathan Levine. But unlike 50/50, The Night Before has the potential to boost its numbers in the weeks to come. A Christmas comedy, the film received an A- CinemaScore, which means it could be a draw for adults over the holidays. Last weekend’s more family-friendly holiday offering, Love the Coopers, was down 52% in its sophomore frame.
Finally, The Secret in Their Eyes opened with an estimated $6.6 million from 2,392 locations. Based on the eponymous 2010 Oscar winner for best foreign language feature, The Secret in Their Eyes stars Julia Roberts and Nicole Kidman and is the second release from STX Entertainment after last August’s The Gift. Although The Secret opened 44% below The Gift, it did manage to double the opening of Our Brand is Crisis, which has earned just $6.9 million after three weeks in theatres.
Looking ahead to next weekend’s Thanksgiving box office, Disney/Pixar’s The Good Dinosaur should take the lead with a debut of at least $60 million – the Pixar sweet spot. Fellow new releases Creed and Victor Frankenstein are expected to open with $25 and $13 million, respectively. Until then, here’s how this weekend’s top ten looks:
|1.||The Hunger Games: Mockingjay-Part 2||$101,025,000||$101|
|3.||The Peanuts Movie||$12.800,000||$98.9|
|4.||The Night Before||$10,100,000||$10.1|
|5.||The Secret in Their Eyes||$6,633,000||$6.6|
|6.||Love the Coopers||$3,925,000||$14.9|
|10.||Bridge of Spies||$1,945,000||$65.1|