After three films and a worldwide box office total in excess of $2.3 billion, The Hunger Games franchise launched its final act on Friday with The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2. For the past few weeks, Part 2 had been tracking in line with Part 1, which scored the biggest single-day debut of 2014 exactly one year ago with $55.1 million. But in a sad echo of this fall’s dominant box office narrative, the tracking for Mockingjay – Part 2 proved a bit too optimistic. The film earned an estimated $46 million yesterday, including $16 million from Thursday p.m. previews. That puts Part 2 on track for about $105 million through Sunday – by far the lowest opening of The Hunger Games series.
But before anyone reads too deeply into this development, it’s important to remember that Mockingjay – Part 1 was also considered a bit of a disappointment in its first frame. Compared to the record-setting $158 million opening of Catching Fire in November 2012, the $121.8 million claimed by Mockingjay – Part 1 looked weak by comparison. Even so, the penultimate chapter in The Hunger Games series went on to become one of the biggest blockbusters of last year with $337.1 million in domestic earnings. That total was second only to American Sniper, which made most of its money in the first quarter of 2015. So even if Katniss falls short of the $120 million tracking promised, it’s too early to take her out of the game altogether.
After two weeks on top of the box office, Spectre will fall to second this weekend. The 25th feature in the James Bond franchise earned an estimated $4.28 million yesterday, which should translate into $14 million for the three-day weekend. Also entering its third weekend in theatres, The Peanuts Movie earned an estimated $2.9 million on Friday. The CGI-animated pic is expected to bring in $13 million through Sunday, which would put it just short of $100 million in domestic earnings.
Last year, no major releases risked going up against Mockingjay – Part 1 in its debut frame. That was not the case in 2015, as wide releases The Night Before and The Secret in Their Eyes took their chances with Katniss Everdeen. How’d that work out? Both movies made it into the top five on Friday, but neither were particularly impressive.
The Night Before, the R-rated holiday comedy starring Seth Rogen, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, and Anthony Mackie, opened in third place with an estimated $3.4 million from 2,960 locations. That limits the film’s weekend aspirations to about $11 million, rather than the $15 – $18 million that was projected. The Secret in Their Eyes came in fifth with an estimated $2.3 million from 2,392 locations. The drama, which stars Nicole Kidman and Julia Roberts, should open in the $7 million range – in line with its modest expectations.
Check back tomorrow for full details on the weekend box office. Until then, here’s Friday’s top five, based on studio estimates:
|1.||The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2||$46,000,000||$46|
|3.||The Night Before||$3,460,000||$3.46|
|4.||The Peanuts Movie||$2,920,000||$89|
|5.||The Secret in Their Eyes||$2,310,000||$2.31|