By Daniel Garris
Lionsgate's The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 2 arrived with a first place debut of $102.67 million this weekend. While the final chapter of the blockbuster franchise starring Jennifer Lawrence delivered the fifth largest debut of 2015 to date, the film also debuted below its lofty pre-release expectations. Mockingjay - Part 2 also opened 16 percent below the $121.90 million start of last year's The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 1, which is an underwhelming stat, especially given that Mockingjay - Part 2 had the added advantage of higher priced IMAX admissions and that well-publicized franchise finales don't tend to fall off significantly from the box office performances of their predecessors. After the explosion of the franchise with 2013's Catching Fire, the popularity of The Hunger Games franchise has come back down to earth a bit with Mockingjay - Part 1 and now Mockingjay - Part 2. With that said, it must be kept in perspective that Mockingjay - Part 2 still claimed the eighth largest debut ever for the month of November (without adjusting for ticket price inflation).
The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 2 opened with $45.58 million on Friday (which included an estimated $16.0 million from Thursday evening shows), fell 26 percent on Saturday to take in $33.84 million and declined 31 percent on Sunday to gross $23.25 million. That placed the film's opening weekend to Friday ratio at 2.25 to 1 (in comparison, Mockingjay - Part 1 had a ratio of 2.21 to 1). Mockingjay - Part 2 received an A- rating on CinemaScore, which was the same CinemaScore rating that Mockingjay - Part 1 received last year. With Mockingjay - Part 2 having opened lower than its predecessor, it may display slightly better holding power than Mockingjay - Part 1. But at the same time, Mockingjay - Part 2 will also obviously face much tougher competition later in its run from Star Wars: The Force Awakens than Mockingjay - Part 1 faced from The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies last year.
After leading the box office for the previous two weeks, Spectre fell to second place this weekend with $15.04 million. The latest installment of Sony and MGM's James Bond franchise was down a sizable 55 percent from last weekend. This weekend's hold was lackluster given that Mockingjay - Part 2 wasn't as dominant as previous Huger Games films have been. Spectre continues to perform on the very low end of expectations with a 17-day take of $154.15 million. That places the film just 9 percent ahead of the $141.42 million 17-day gross of 2008's Quantum of Solace and 30 percent behind the $221.14 million 17-day take of 2012's Skyfall (though it should be noted that the third weekends for both Quantum of Solace and Skyfall fell over Thanksgiving weekend).
The Peanuts Movie followed in third with $13.20 million. The 3D computer animated adaptation from Fox and Blue Sky was down 45 percent. While that actually represented one of the weekend's stronger percentage holds among wide releases, The Peanuts Movie continues to display significant front-loading for a well-received family film. The Peanuts Movie has still grossed a solid $99.35 million through 17 days of release. The film is currently running 18 percent behind the $121.75 million 17-day take of 2012's Wreck-It Ralph. Looking ahead, family films traditionally experience strong holds over the Thanksgiving holiday frame, but The Peanuts Movie will also be facing tough new competition from Disney's The Good Dinosaur beginning on Wednesday.
Sony's The Night Before debuted in fourth place with $9.88 million. The R-rated comedy starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Seth Rogen and Anthony Mackie debuted below its already scaled back expectations. The Night Before opened 52 percent below the $20.72 million opening weekend take of 2013's This Is The End (which had a deflated opening weekend from launching on a Wednesday) and instead opened much more in line with the $12.95 million debut of 2011's A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas. It appears that potential for The Night Before was limited in part from the film coming across as more of a niche comedy as opposed to a more mainstream comedy. On a positive note, The Night Before will have a good chance of holding up well throughout the holiday season and the film did carry a modest production budget of $25 million. The Night Before received an A- rating on CinemaScore, which is an encouraging sign going forward.
Fellow new release Secret in Their Eyes followed in fifth place with a debut of just $6.65 million. The thriller from STX Entertainment starring Chiwetel Ejiofor, Nicole Kidman and Julia Roberts debuted below its already modest expectations. The cast of Secret in Their Eyes ultimately wasn't enough to bring in moviegoers and mixed critical reviews didn't help matters either. With Secret in Their Eyes, STX Entertainment was unable to duplicate the success it had earlier this year with The Gift, as Secret in Their Eyes debuted 44 percent below the $11.85 million start of The Gift. In addition to mixed critical reviews, Secret in Their Eyes received an underwhelming B- rating on CinemaScore, which isn't a good early sign going forward.
Meanwhile, upon expanding into moderate release this weekend Open Road's Spotlight took eighth place with $3.53 million. The awards season hopeful starring Mark Ruffalo and Michael Keaton registered a solid per-location average of $5,900 from 598 locations. However, it does appear that Spotlight could have problems building momentum as it expands further given how much its per-location average tailed off this weekend. Birdman faced a similar situation last year as it expanded into more locations. Spotlight has grossed $5.80 million in 17 days, which places the film 19 percent ahead of the $4.88 million 17-day platform start of Birdman.