Sunday, November 22, 2015

The Hunger Games Come To A Solid, Though Slightly Under Expectations, Financial Conclusion At The Box Office This Weekend

There's no denying a $101 million three day haul is a very impressive haul, and The Hunger Games: Mockingjay: Part Two can hold its head high by knowing it will go down as one of the most impressive sagas of all-time in terms of box office. However, there's no denying that such a lower opening is kind of surprising, especially since, typically, when books are split into these kind of two part movies, the second entry is the higher grossing one (see: the Breaking Dawn and Deathly Hallows films) of the duo. Instead, Mockingjay: Part Two made about 16% less on opening weekend than its predecessor and about 30% below the $158 million debut of Catching Fire just two years ago on this very same weekend.

It's odd to see a franchise putter out like this one, especially since none of the Hunger Games films have received the sort of scorn that brought down the domestic hauls of later follow ups in the Shrek, Chronicles of Narnia and Transformers franchises. Perhaps the more downbeat tone of these final entries made them less crowd-pleasing or maybe the lack of a really compelling bad guy in the marketing (I personally loved slimeball Donald Sutherland in the actual movie, but I'll also freely admit that in traditional TV ads he's not gonna come across as memorably menacing as Heath Ledgers Joker or Ralph Fiennes Voldemort) also may have suppressed grosses.

Regardless of why, Mockingjay: Part Two is still gonna clear $250 million domestically easily and have huge grosses overseas, so the odds are still ever in favor of Lionsgate finding tons of profit from this final Katniss adventure. Meanwhile in second place, fellow November 2015 blockbuster plummeted 57% from last weekend for a $14.4 million gross for a $153.5 million 17 day domestic haul. This one should surpass the domestic grosses of Casino Royale and Quantum of Solace sometime in the next week.

In third place was The Peanuts Movie, which lost another 47% for a $12.8 third weekend a $98.8 million domestic gross so far. This ones been dropping off a tad harsher than usual for animated family films, though I do wonder if the fact that it seems to be skewing more towards nostalgic adults and is less reliant on solely family audiences means it'll be able to endure a bit better than expected whenever new family movie The Good Dinosaur enters the marketplace We shall see.

For only the second time in the entire history of the franchise, a new movie decided to open against a new Hunger Games movie (the last time this happened was in 2013 with Catching Fire facing off against Vince Vaughn dud Delivery Man). The Night Before stepped up to the plate with an unusually low opening weekend for a Seth Rogen comedy, with only a $10.2 million opening weekend. That's only 2% ahead of the opening weekend of Zack And Miri Make A Porno, 7% behind the opening of Observe And Report and 21% behind the debut of Paul. Being a Holiday themed picture, this one should stick around for awhile, but there's very little chance it gets much higher than $40 million in its domestic run, which would only be a 15% improvement on the domestic haul of the lats movie Seth Rogen and Joseph Gordon-Levitt did together, 50/50.

The Secret In Their Eyes opened to a meager $6.6 million this weekend, likely a result of poor reviews and a very generic marketing campaign. More impressive was Spotlight, which just barely failed to get into wide release this weekend by expanding into 598 theaters. It brought in another $3.6 million this weekend for a great $6,025 per theater average and has now taken in $5.8 million. It'll be interesting to see how this one plays out over the Thanksgiving holidays and if it can sustain its excellent word-of-mouth through the Christmas holidays.

Brooklyn also showed stamina by growing into 111 theaters for a $1.15 million weekend and a $10,360 per theater average. There's almost no way on God's green Earth that Fox Searchlight doesn't bring this one into wide release next weekend. Meanwhile, Carol debuted this weekend with the third best per theater average of the year, grossing $248,000 from 4 locations for a $62,000 per theater average. The Weinstein Company has released a new drama on the weekend before Thanksgiving each year since 2010, and usually vastly expands the theater count of these movies over the Christmas holidays.

Legend meanwhile finally got into American theaters and had a solid debut this weekend, grossing $94,000 from 4 theaters for a $23,500 per theater average. Universal plans to bring this one into wide release on December 11, and given Tom Hardys hugely expanded profile post-Mad Max: Fury Road as well as these box office numbers, such a release route seems like a solid proposition.

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