By Daniel Garris
The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 1 comfortably remained in first place this weekend with a three-day take of $56.97 million. The third installment of Lionsgate's blockbuster franchise starring Jennifer Lawrence took in $82.67 million over the five-day frame. Mockingjay - Part 1 was down a very reasonable 53 percent from last weekend. In comparison, last year's The Hunger Games: Catching Fire fell 53 percent in its second weekend to gross $74.18 million. Mockingjay - Part 1 surpassed the $200 million mark this weekend and has grossed $225.68 million in ten days. While Mockingjay - Part 1 is already the seventh highest grossing domestic release of 2014, the film is running a significant 24 percent behind the $296.29 million ten-day take of Catching Fire.
Penguins of Madagascar placed in a distant second with $25.45 million over the three-day frame. The 3D computer animated film from Fox and DreamWorks Animation has grossed $35.44 million in its first five days, which is below pre-release expectations. Compared to previous Thanksgiving family releases, Penguins of Madagascar opened 10 percent ahead of the $32.34 million five-day start of 2012's Rise of the Guardians and 15 percent below the $41.52 million five-day start of 2012's The Muppets. Penguins of Madagascar is set to mark another underwhelming domestic performer for DreamWorks Animation; as it joins the likes of 2012's Rise of the Guardians, 2013's Turbo and to a lesser extent this year's Mr. Peabody & Sherman. Penguins of Madagascar received an A- rating on CinemaScore.
Horrible Bosses 2 was off to an even softer start this weekend with a fifth place take of $15.46 million over the three-day frame. The comedy sequel from Warner Bros. took in $22.77 million over the five-day frame, which was well below expectations (which had already been scaled back a bit due in part to the film's poor critical reviews). Horrible Bosses 2 opened 37 percent behind the $36.13 million five-day start of 2011's Horrible Bosses (which opened on a Friday) and 51 percent behind the $46.05 million five-day Thanksgiving start of 2008's Four Christmases. Horrible Bosses 2 was clearly hurt by its poor reviews, though the film may be going over a bit better with moviegoers, as it received a respectable B+ rating on CinemaScore.
The combined performances of Penguins of Madagascar and Horrible Bosses 2 this weekend argue very strongly that moviegoers continue to have sequel fatigue in 2014.
Thanks in part to the softer than expected starts of both Penguins of Madagascar and Horrible Bosses 2, Disney's Big Hero 6 and Paramount's Interstellar both held up very nicely this weekend. Big Hero 6 placed in third for the weekend with $18.82 million, which was down a very slim 6 percent from last weekend. The 3D computer animated film from Walt Disney Animation Studios took in $26.02 million over the five-day frame. Big Hero 6 has grossed $167.22 million through 24 days of release. That places the film 12 percent ahead of the $149.28 million 24-day take of 2012's Wreck-It Ralph.
Interstellar claimed fourth place over the weekend with $15.74 million. The Christopher Nolan directed sci-fi film was up a terrific 3 percent over last weekend. Interstellar took in an estimated $21.96 million over the five-day frame and has grossed $147.04 million through 24 days of release. While Interstellar continues to perform below expectations, the film is displaying very solid holding power, due in part to good word of mouth, continued IMAX grosses and from skewing heavily towards older moviegoers.
Universal's Dumb and Dumber To took sixth place with $8.36 million over the three-day frame. Despite the poorer than expected performance of Horrible Bosses 2, Dumb and Dumber To still took a hit this weekend, as it was down a sharp 41 percent from last weekend. Dumb and Dumber To took in $11.66 million over the five-day frame and has grossed a solid $72.24 million in 17 days.
The Theory of Everything had a very promising expansion this weekend with a three-day take of $5.01 million. That placed the awards season hopeful from Focus in seventh place among all films this weekend. The Theory of Everything earned a per-location average of $6,248 from 802 locations. The film has grossed $9530 million in 24 days and should continue to hold up well going forward.
Fellow awards season hopeful The Imitation Game was off to a very strong platform start this weekend with $479,352 from 4 locations in New York and Los Angeles. The Weinstein Company drama starring Benedict Cumberbatch generated a massive per-location average of $119,838 for the frame. That represents the second largest per-location average for platform releases thus far in 2014 (behind only The Grand Budapest Hotel). The Imitation Game looks to be in store for a lengthy box office run throughout the awards season.