‘Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2’ Debuts to Franchise-Low $101 Million

Hunger Games Mockingjay Part 2
Courtesy of Lionsgate

“The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2” dominated the weekend box office. The final film in the science-fiction franchise debuted to $101 million, but even that massive figure wasn’t as big a sendoff for Katniss Everdeen and her fellow revolutionaries as some had predicted.

The bow ranks as the year’s fifth-biggest opening, but it falls short of tracking that projected the picture would top $120 million in its initial weekend in theaters. It also represents a low for the series, falling far short of the $158.1 million high-water mark established by 2013’s “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire.” It’s a sign, perhaps, that interest in the dystopian world of Panem has crested.

Investors in Lionsgate, the studio behind the series, reacted negatively to news that “Mockingjay – Part 2” would miss projections, sending the company’s stock down more than 3% on Friday. For its part, the studio was put in the odd position of almost having to defend a debut that ranks among the largest in movie history.

“It’s a phenomenal opening and we launched these movies at this time consciously knowing there’d be a lucrative long run way through the holidays,” said David Spitz, Lionsgate’s domestic distribution chief.

The series made up some ground overseas, picking up $147 million after debuting in nearly every significant foreign territory, including China. That left it with a worldwide haul of $247 million, less than the $274.9 million global kickoff enjoyed by “Mockingjay – Part 1” and far below the $300 million weekend that some analysts had predicted.

“Across the board this is just down and it’s a direct reflection of how people thought about [‘Mockingjay – Part 1’],” said Jeff Bock, a box office analyst with Exhibitor Relations. “That was not a film. It was just a trailer.”

Lionsgate spared no expense in planning a farewell to its most valuable series. It spent nearly $200 million to make and market the film. In the U.S. the film did well in premium formats, earning an estimated $9.8 million, and Imax, where it picked up $8.5 million.

With “Mockingjay – Part 2” sucking most of the air out the multiplexes, that left two new releases, Sony’s “The Night Before” and STX/IM Global’s “The Secret In Their Eyes,” struggling to get some recognition. “The Night Before,” a bawdy comedy with Seth Rogen and Joseph Gordon-Levitt, fared best, earning $10.1 million from 2,960 theaters. The film cost $23 million to make, and drew an opening weekend crowd that was evenly split between men and women.

Sony distribution chief Rory Bruer noted that there won’t be another mainstream comedy in the marketplace until Tina Fey and Amy Poehler’s “Sisters” debuts on Dec. 16. He predicted the film would “get that pop” of playing into the holidays, and noted that the film received an A-minus CinemaScore.

“People love this movie,” said Bruer. “It’s one of those movies that you see with an audience and you want to throw up you’re laughing so hard.”

“The Secret In Their Eyes” faces fiercer headwinds. The remake of an Oscar-winning Argentinian thriller of the same name earned a disappointing $6.6 million for a fifth place finish. The story of a team of FBI agents involved in a murder investigation stars Nicole Kidman, Julia Roberts and Chiwetel Ejiofor. It cost $19.5 million to produce, and is the latest in a string of films pitched at adult audiences such as “By the Sea” and “Steve Jobs,” to whiff at the box office this fall.

Despite the weak opening, STX, which bought domestic rights with Route One to the film for $6.5 million, expressed confidence that “The Secret In Their Eyes” would find its audience over the holidays.

“We feel this is too early in the process to give us a full grade,” said Kevin Grayson, distribution chief at STX. “This is going to factor into the Thanksgiving play period, and the twists and surprise ending are going to keep water cooler conversation going.”

The weakness of the new films allowed holdovers “Spectre” and “The Peanuts Movie” to pad their box office results. The latest Bond adventure added $14.6 million to its $153.7 million domestic haul, nabbing second place on the charts. “The Peanuts Movie” finished third, picking up $12.8 million to push its stated total to $98.9 million.

In limited release, the Weinstein Company scored with “Carol.” The critically heralded love story with Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara generated $248,149 from four theaters for a strong per-location average of $62,037.

“Reviews and word of mouth will drive this film,” said Erik Lomis, distribution chief at the Weinstein Company. “These are fantastic performances by Rooney and Cate and [director] Todd Haynes delivered some great filmmaking.”

Universal had more trouble finding its audience for “Legend.” The violent gangster picture about the Kray twins saw Tom Hardy doing double duty as the crime boss brothers, but critics were lukewarm, and the picture nabbed a so-so $83,000 from four theaters for a per-screen average of $20,271.

With “Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2” not hitting as big a bullseye as other pictures in the series, the overall box office tumbled. Ticket sales were down roughly 10% for the weekend, down from the year-ago period that fielded “Mockingjay – Part 1’s” $121.9 million opening.

“The overall marketplace is slow,” said Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst at Rentrak. “There’s too many movies, too many distractions, and so much going on in the world right now.”

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  1. Gemma says:

    The hype has died with this franchise, cause the Part 1 was awful.

  2. James says:

    Judging by the popularity of this franchise, the opening is really weak as hell. Final films in a very popular franchise usually opens the highest and grosses the most money similar to Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, and Twilight. With The Good Dinosaur and Star Wars: TFA releasing soon, Mockingjay is going to have weak box office legs and maybe have a 3x multiplier.

  3. JLucas says:

    The media is reporting these bigoted remarks from Jennifer Lawrence concerning the Christian population, “People Holding Their Crucifixes, Which May As Well Be Pitchforks’. If she actually said that, yes, she is indeed an absolute bigot, and pretty stupid as well, in my opinion. She may not even realize she is a bigot, although those remarks make it quite obvious.

  4. Aleric says:

    This is what happens when you insult more than 2/3 of your audience, but then when has Hollywood not insulted the people who pay to see their crap. I haven’t paid to see any of these Liberal Utopia movies and wont.

    • marie says:

      Cried us a river.

    • Swiss says:

      Aleric: I have worked in and around Hollywood for 23 years and the stupidity of this place can never be overestimated. I’ve made around $70 million in that time, and had I been as depraved, judgmental and barbaric as the so-called “liberals” out here, I would have made 10 times more. Their sense of morality can be found in a men’s room stall. Not all, mind you, some of the people out here are amazing, decent, moral human beings, but there are so many filthy nutbags out here parading around as “moral” that many of them actually think insulting mass groups of people is actually “progress.” I know, unbelievable.

  5. JimmyJ says:

    Hey Seth Rogen, Ben Carson asks, “How you feeling this weekend? Oh, not so good? Your movie tanked, you say? Oh, that’s too bad,” as Ben turned and walked away with a smile on his face.

    • Holloway says:

      When Rogen said “f*** Ben Carson,” that was it for me, and it should have been it for investors. If you do not like someone, that’s fine, but still have some decency to agree to disagree. Like it or not, there are millions of republicans in this country, millions of Christians in this country, and many other assorted groups of millions…. they all deserve respect whether you like them or not, just like you’d like to be respected. I have no respect for Seth Rogen, who is marginally “talented” at best, and I am quite happy that his movie is a failure. He deserves it, and I hope this serves notice to future investors to not put your money on loud-mouthed, obnoxious jack-asses.

  6. Rusty says:

    Maybe stars with mariginal talent, should learn to keep their political views private. I intentionally did not go see this movie because of her statement towards the Republican Party

  7. Lulu says:

    The film sucked. The book wasn’t even good. The ending was as boring as the book. It should have been 1 movie. There won’t be any repeat takers on this one like Deathly Hallows pt 2 and Breaking Dawn Pt 2.

  8. Jude says:

    Lawrence has proven to be a loud-mouthed bigot and this is the start of her fade.

  9. Sharon says:

    LOL, and people were saying this was going open to $140 million. This franchise was a fad and peaked at Catching Fire interest waned resulting in the lack of hype for the finale.

  10. LOL says:

    Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst at Rentrak, every weekend has an excuse. Had the movie over performed, he would’ve said that it’s down to audiences wanting reliable franchise entertainment; however, in this situation he argues it’s box-office underperformance relates to quantifiable glut and societal issues.

    The truth is that he hasn’t got a clue. Dergarabedian should be in politics.

  11. Silvana says:

    Maybe audience is tired of this film saga and also for lead actors in it, especially Lawrence.

  12. Bill B. says:

    The mistake was making two films out of the last book. Most agree that the last one was the weakest due to trying to stretch it into two films. The final film is better as most suspected, but it lost some fans with that that “filler” of a third. It need not worry about losing money though. The bigger disappointment is the continued failure of serious well made films that are about something. The way things are going this year, the Oscar nominations are going to be full of box office failures. They are not, usually, a popularity contest nor should they be.

    • John Shutt says:

      You make a great point. People crow about Mockingjay being a failure for “only” making $101 million in its opening weekend yet many of the Oscar contenders (Spotlight, Carol, Danish Girl etc) would kill to make that much overall.

  13. White feminist says:

    Only media stream likes these feminist don’t let the nice headlines fool you.

  14. Jord says:

    GREED! At least with the Potter films they gave the audience a chance to miss the film, and yearn for the next with a decent 18 month window inbetween. Not that this is close to being as good as those…but still one every 12 months, this was bound to happen.

  15. Grace says:

    This is still the fifth biggest debut of the year. Moreover it’s the film franchise with four consecutive $100m+ debut weekends

    • Chuck says:

      Being $40 million UNDER projections is nothing to crow about. Perhaps some of these “stars” should shut their big traps and be valuable to their investors. Lawrence’s bigoted remarks are coming back to bite her (and her investors) in the ass.

  16. The Opinionator.. says:

    You quote Sony distribution chief Rory Bruer saying of THE NIGHT BEFORE: “It’s one of those movies you see with an audience and you want to throw up you’re laughing so hard.” Well, I saw the trailers for this one in cinemas and repeatedly on my tv, and I wanted to throw up…but not from laughter.

  17. Cath says:

    Maybe families are going to go over the holidays. After all that is why Mockingjay opened the weekend before Thanksgiving.

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