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Box office hits and misses: Mockingjay sinks The Heart of the Sea

Maybe it’s the calm before the Star Wars storm, but it was yet another lackluster weekend at the box office. Only one new movie found its way into the weekend’s ten highest-grossing films, while The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2 continued its four-week run at the top of the box-office chart.

Overall, it was a down weekend for Hollywood — particularly for director Ron Howard’s epic whale-hunting adventure In The Heart of the Sea, which only managed to earn around $11 million for its opening weekend. That’s a disappointment of Moby Dick-sized proportions for studio Warner Bros., and it’s looking as if it will be the second flop in a row for Howard and the film’s star, Chris Hemsworth, who previously teamed up for 2013’s underwhelming formula-racing drama Rush.

# Title Weekend U.S. Total Worldwide Total
1. The Hunger Games: Mockingjay — Part 2 $11.3M $244.5M $564.6M
2. In the Heart of the Sea $11M $11M $50.4M
3. The Good Dinosaur $10.5M $89.6M $167.8M
4. Creed $10.1M $79.3M $84.6M
5. Krampus $8M $28.1M $36.9M
6. Spectre $4M $190.7M $820.5M
7. The Night Before $3.9M $38.2M $40.8M
8. The Peanuts Movie $2.6M $124.9M $141.5M
9. Spotlight $2.5M $20.3M $20.3M
10. Brooklyn $1.9M $14.3M $14.3M

On the positive side, the final chapter of The Hunger Games franchise continued to dominate the box office, and while it’s still on pace to be the lowest-grossing film of the franchise, it’s already made an impressive $244 million in the U.S. and $564 million worldwide — good for sixth place on the list of the year’s top films domestically and tenth place worldwide.

Also doing well in theaters are the unconventional holiday films Krampus and The Night Before. Director Michael Dougherty’s holiday-themed horror movie Krampus is doing particularly well by horror genre standards, and its holiday element — and positive reviews — seem to be working in its favor. Similarly, the “R”-rated comedy The Night Before has managed to maintain an extended run in theaters with a respectable $38 million domestically so far, to go along with its warm reception from critics and audiences alike.

One of the weekend’s biggest winners, however, didn’t even register in the top ten.

Anchorman director Adam McKay’s ensemble film The Big Short opened to limited screenings in just eight theaters over the weekend and earned more than $720,000 — a debut that generated an average of $90,000 per theater. That opening ranks as the second highest per-theater opening for any film this year, ranking just behind Steve Jobs but with the added bonus of having four Golden Globe nominations, a Screen Actors Guild nomination, and a National Board of Review award for the year’s best ensemble film. The Big Short will expand to a wide release in theaters December 23.

Next weekend’s big winner is a foregone conclusion, with Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens already on pace to have one of the biggest opening weekends of all time, and very likely making a run for the all-time box office record.

Rick Marshall
A veteran journalist with more than two decades of experience covering local and national news, arts and entertainment, and…
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