Sunday Update: Lionsgate's The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 1 registered the largest opening weekend of 2014 with an estimated $123.0 million this weekend. However, the third installment of the blockbuster franchise starring Jennifer Lawrence debuted a significant 22 percent below the $158.07 million start of last year's Catching Fire and 19 percent below the $152.54 million start of 2012's The Hunger Games. While Mockingjay - Part 1 had been largely expected to open below Catching Fire due in part to not having an IMAX boost this time around, the degree of the drop-off from Catching Fire was certainly unexpected.
With that said, it should be noted that in addition to easily generating the largest opening weekend of 2014 (the previous high being the $100.04 million start of Transformers: Age of Extinction), Mockingjay - Part 1 also claimed the sixth largest opening weekend ever for the month of November and the 15th largest opening weekend of all-time (without adjusting for ticket price inflation). Those are still impressive accomplishments, especially without the aid of either 3D or IMAX sales.
Mockingjay - Part 1 opened with $55.15 million on Friday, which included $17.0 million from Thursday night shows. The film declined 26 percent on Saturday to gross $40.75 million and is estimated to fall 33.5 percent on Sunday to gross $27.1 million. That places the film's estimated opening weekend to Friday ratio at 2.23 to 1, which is on par with the 2.23 to 1 ratio of Catching Fire. The ratio suggests that Mockingjay - Part 1 will likely display similar holding power to that of Catching Fire, though Mockingjay - Part 1 could potentially hold up slightly better due in part from having opened significantly lower and in part from not having to face competition from Frozen. Mockingjay - Part 1 received an A- rating on CinemaScore.
Disney's Big Hero 6 took in an estimated $20.09 million to remain in second place. The 3D computer animated film from Walt Disney Animation Studios was down 42 percent from last weekend. Even though Mockingjay - Part 1 didn't pack the same punch as Catching Fire did last year, it still had a clear effect on holdovers, as percentage declines from last weekend were significant in general. Big Hero 6 has grossed $135.71 million through 17 days of release. That places the film 11.5 percent ahead of the $121.75 million 17-day take of 2012's Wreck-It Ralph (which fell 44 percent in its third weekend to gross $18.58 million). While it will face new direct competition from Fox's Penguins of Madagascar beginning on Wednesday, Big Hero 6 is likely to hold up nicely over Thanksgiving weekend thanks in part to strong word of mouth and in part based on historical trends for family fare over the Thanksgiving frame.
It was a fairly close race for third place this weekend between Paramount's Interstellar and Universal's Dumb and Dumber To. With an estimated $15.1 million, Interstellar topped Dumb and Dumber To by an estimated $1.3 million for the frame. Interstellar was down a significant 47 percent from last weekend, as despite continued IMAX shows, the Christopher Nolan directed sci-fi film still took a hit from Mockingjay - Part 1. Interstellar continues to perform below expectations with $120.69 million after 17 days of wide release. The film is also falling further and further behind the pace of Gravity, as it is now running 29 percent behind the $169.56 million 17-day take of Gravity (which fell just 31 percent in its third weekend to gross $30.03 million). While Interstellar could experience stronger than usual stabilization over the next two weeks, the film will be facing very direct competition from both Fox's Exodus: Gods and Kings and Warner's The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies in December.
On the heels of last weekend's stronger than expected first place debut, Dumb and Dumber To fell three spots and a massive 62 percent from last weekend to land in fourth with an estimated $13.8 million. A fan-driven opening weekend performance combined with poor critical reviews and lackluster word of mouth among moviegoers (not to mention the added presence of Mockingjay - Part 1) clearly helped lead to a hefty second weekend decline for the long-awaited comedy sequel starring Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels. Despite the second weekend decline, Dumb and Dumber To is running in line with expectations at this point with a very solid ten-day take of $57.45 million. However, the film has now fallen 7 percent behind the $61.57 million ten-day pace of last year's Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa (which fell just 38 percent in its second weekend to gross $20.01 million).
On the limited front, Focus' The Theory of Everything expanded nicely with an estimated $1.50 million from 140 locations. That placed the James Marsh directed awards season hopeful in tenth place among all films and gave the film a per-location average of $10,714 for the frame. The Theory of Everything has grossed $2.79 million through 17 days of platform release and will continue its expansion over the upcoming Thanksgiving frame.
Fellow awards season hopeful Foxcatcher grossed an estimated $474,339 from 24 locations. That gave the Bennett Miller directed film starring Steve Carell and Channing Tatum a per-location average of $19,764. The Sony Pictures Classics release has grossed $0.822 million after ten days.
Saturday Update: Lionsgate reports that The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 1 opened to $55 million on Friday, including Thursday night's $17 million start. While Friday's showing is down 22.5 percent from Catching Fire's $71 million opening day, the first Mockingjay drew a stronger Thursday-to-Friday multiple (3.2x) than did Catching Fire (2.8x) from its $25.25 million early shows on the same weekend last year.
Fans and casual viewers didn't feel the need to rush out so abruptly for Mockingjay - Part 1, which can likely be explained by a number of reasons such as the lack of a true ending to the story, the general perception that Mockingjay is the least favorite among fans of the original book series, hazardous snowstorms plaguing some parts of the country, and other contributing factors. How the film plays out from here will be even more telling, although it seems like the general consensus for now is that split stories and split finales have finally played out some of their welcome among audiences. The only franchise to mostly escape that fate thus far has been Harry Potter, which essentially began the trend with November 2010's Deathly Hallows Part 1. That film bowed to a $61.7 million opening day as part of a $125 million weekend.
Early word of mouth for the first half of Mockingjay is mostly positive with an 83 percent Flixster score as of Saturday morning, although that's down from Catching Fire's excellent 1-day after score of 94 percent. Critics haven't been as kind to the film this time around either (driven by the same aversion to split finales), giving it a 68 percent Rotten Tomatoes score. All of this being said, the film will still claim 2014's best opening weekend thus far with a projected $122 million. That figure could go higher if this entry proves to be a bit more back-loaded by general audiences. Where the film lands in the end is difficult to tell right now given the new territory the franchise is in right now, but combined with strong overseas returns, Lionsgate still has plenty of reason to be satisfied as they prepare the series' final film for November 2015.
Meanwhile, Big Hero 6 took second place yesterday with $4.48 million. That figure was down 44 percent from last Friday, identical to Wreck-It Ralph's drop on its third Friday. Big Hero 6 has tallied $120.1 million domestically so far, placing it 12 percent ahead of Ralph's pace. BoxOffice projects an $18.9 million weekend.
Dumb and Dumber To slid 70 percent from opening day to $4.3 million yesterday. With $47.95 million in the bank through eight days of release, BoxOffice is projecting a $13.9 million sophomore frame.
Interstellar was off 49 percent from last Friday to $4.22 million yesterday. Christopher Nolan's space epic has earned a domestic total of $109.8 million through its first 15 days. BoxOffice projects a $14 million third weekend.
Rounding out the top five in a tie for Friday, Gone Girl and Beyond the Lights each brought in $0.8 million. The former title's domestic haul is now up to $154.8 million, while the latter title's 8-day gross stands at $8.3 million.
Check back on Sunday morning for official weekend estimates from the studios.
Friday Update #2: Sources tell BoxOffice that The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 is headed for a $125 million-$130 million debut based on Friday matinee receipts.
While that's certainly a healthy opening on its own terms, it's far from the $158.1 million debut that Catching Fire managed last November.
Check back tomorrow for official studio estimates and updated projections.
Friday Update #1: The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 scored $17 million from Thursday evening shows. While that trails the $25.3 million haul of Catching Fire last year, it's still comfortably ahead of the $11.2 million Thursday evening tally of Guardians of the Galaxy.
More coming soon...