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Box office hits and misses: The Hunger Games wins big, but there’s a catch

weekend box office the hunger games mockingjay part 2
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The odds favored The Hunger Games: Mockingjay — Part 2 this weekend, with the grand finale of the blockbuster franchise earning the top spot in the box-office rankings with a $101 million debut.

Despite the film’s big opening weekend, the outlook wasn’t entirely positive for Mockingjay — Part 2, the fourth film in the hit series adapted from Suzanne Collins’ popular, post-apocalyptic young-adult novels.

Not only did the film have the lowest opening of the series so far, falling $20 million short of its 2014 predecessor, but it also currently ranks as only the fifth best opening of the year (and likely to be the sixth after Star Wars: Episode VII — The Force Awakens debuts). Given that all of the previous films ranked in the top three openings of their respective years, it’s a notable step down for the franchise.

Still, there have been few — if any — franchises to have their first four films earn more than $100 million on their opening weekends, so it’s not all doom and gloom for the final installment of The Hunger Games.

# Title Weekend U.S. Total Worldwide Total
1. The Hunger Games: Mockingjay — Part 2 $101M $101M $247M
2. Spectre $14.6M $153.7M $677.8M
3. The Peanuts Movie $12.8M $98.9M $108.7M
4. The Night Before $10.1M $10.1M $10.1M
5. The Secret In Their Eyes $6.6M $6.6M  $6.6M
6. Love the Coopers $3.9M $14.9M  $14.9M
7. The Martian $3.7M $213M $486.4M
8. Spotlight $3.6M $5.9M  $5.9M
9. The 33 $2.2M $9.9M  $22.6M
10. Bridge of Spies $1.9M $65.2M  $85.2M

In other news, the debut of the R-rated holiday comedy The Night Before might not have generated a lot of box-office business, but the film did manage to earn rave reviews from critics and audiences alike. That could mean good things for the raunchy comedy starring Seth Rogen, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, and Anthony Mackie, as positive word-of-mouth tends to provide a big boost for films around the holiday season.

Also making its debut in the top ten films of the weekend was the thriller The Secret In Their Eyes, a remake of the Oscar-winning Argentinian film of the same name. The English-language film stars Julia Roberts, Chiwetel Ejiofor, and Nicole Kidman and earned a modest $6.6 million — a result that’s probably viewed as a win by the studio, given the movie’s nonexistent marketing campaign.

Finally, Ridley Scott’s The Martian continued to stay strong at the box office and make a strong case for extending its run in theaters with another $3.7 million over the weekend. That total was good for seventh place on the weekend, and The Martian now ranks as the sixth highest-grossing film of the year in U.S. theaters and the 11th highest-grossing film of the year worldwide.

This upcoming weekend features the release of several big films, including the latest animated feature from Walt Disney Pictures and Pixar Animation Studios, The Good Dinosaur. The film’s debut during a holiday week when many children are out of school makes it as close to a sure thing as you get in Hollywood, so expect to see it post some big numbers over the extended weekend.

For the older crowd, the Rocky spin-off Creed finally arrives in theaters over the weekend, as well as the Oscar-friendly biopic The Danish Girl, which casts Eddie Redmayne as Lili Elbe, one of the first known recipients of sex reassignment surgery.

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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