Box office hits and misses: Krampus scares up a big opening weekend

The weekend after Thanksgiving is typically a slow one for Hollywood, and this year continued that trend with only one new release finding its way into the weekend’s top ten films, and relatively low numbers across the board.

As expected, The Hunger Games: Mockingjay — Part 2 retained its position atop the weekend’s box-office chart, but the conclusion of the blockbuster Hunger Games franchise didn’t finish too far ahead of Krampus, the only new film to break into the top ten this week.

Directed by Michael Dougherty (Trick ‘r Treat), the holiday horror movie Krampus earned an impressive $16 million during its first weekend in theaters. It was a surprisingly good opening weekend for the film, which exceeded most pundits’ predictions for both ticket sales and reviews. The film, which follows a family tormented by a demonic creature during their annual Christmas gathering, has earned positive reviews from critics so far (to the tune of a 66-percent “Fresh” rating on review aggregator RottenTomatoes.com) and could benefit from the good buzz over the next week or so.

While the rest of the weekend’s highest-grossing movies were all holdovers from previous weeks, there were some notable changes in the box-office hierarchy.

# Title Weekend U.S. Total Worldwide Total
1. The Hunger Games: Mockingjay — Part 2 $18.6M $227.1M $523.9M
2. Krampus $16M $16M $19.3M
3. Creed $15.5M $65.1M $70M
4. The Good Dinosaur $15.5M $75.9M $131.3M
5. Spectre $5.4M $184.5M $792M
6. The Night Before $4.9M $32M $32M
7. The Peanuts Movie $3.5 $121.4M $134.7M
8. Spotlight $2.9M $16.6M $16.6M
9. Brooklyn $2.4M $11.2M $11.2M
10. The Secret In Their Eyes $1.9M $17.2M $17.2M

One of the most notable week-to-week shifts was the big drop experienced by Disney and Pixar’s animated feature The Good Dinosaur. The film’s weekend gross was around 60-percent below what it achieved in last week’s big debut, and ended up being one of the worst second-week performances of any Pixar film so far. Still, even the least successful Pixar films have been box-office winners when compared to other studio’s underperforming projects, so it will be interesting to see the big-picture take on The Good Dinosaur when it concludes its run.

Ridley Scott’s The Martian also fell out of the top ten after nine straight weeks of impressive earnings. The film, which now appears to be garnering some serious award consideration, earned another $1.6 million over the weekend — good for 11th place in the box-office chart.

The only other new release to make a big impact over the weekend was Spike Lee’s Chi-Raq, the first theatrical release for Amazon Studios. The film earned $1.2 million from screenings in just 305 theaters, and its arrival on the big screen will be followed by a release on Amazon Instant Video in the near future.

At this point, everything arriving in theaters just seems like an opening act for Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens, but there are at least two notable films making their debut this upcoming weekend. Director Ron Howard’s Moby Dick-inspired drama In The Heart of the Sea premieres Friday and stars Thor himself, Chris Hemsworth. Also hitting theaters on Friday is The Big Short, director Adam McKay’s film about the financial crisis of the late 2000s with a ridiculously impressive ensemble cast that includes Steve Carell, Christian Bale, Ryan Gosling, Marisa Tomei, Melissa Leo, and Brad Pitt, among other familiar faces.

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