Box Office: ‘Mockingjay’ Hits Franchise Low Despite No. 1 Opening of the Year

The Hunger Games Mockingjay Part 1

Updated: Early Friday projections show Lionsgate’s “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay — Part 1” heading for an opening weekend of about $125 million in the U.S. — significantly lower than recent forecasts and over 20% below the first two “Hunger Games” movies.

However, international box office for the first part of the “Hunger Games” finale is up 5% to 10% above last year’s “Catching Fire” with more than $33 million in two days.

The U.S. opening day grosses for “Mockingjay,” according to early estimates, will likely reach $54 million, including $17 million from Thursday night showings, followed by about $43 million on Saturday and another $29 million on Sunday.

Should those numbers hold, the U.S. opening weekend for “Mockingjay” would finish far below 2012’s “The Hunger Games” with $152 million and last year’s “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire” with $158 million. Box office trackers had expected “Mockingjay” to finish between $130 million and $150 million in the U.S.

Still, a $125 million U.S. opening for “Mockingjay” would be the biggest 2014 launch by far, easily topping the $100 million mark set by “Transformers: Age of Extinction” in June. And only 15 other films have opened at over $120 million domestically, led by the $207 million for “Marvel’s The Avengers” in 2012.

Thursday night’s business for “Mockingjay” was 33% behind last year’s massive $25.3 million Thursday night launch for “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire” and 14% below the $19.7 million earned by the first “Hunger Games” on its first night of release in March, 2012.

Lionsgate’s stock dipped 5% Friday after the estimates were released.

According to some observers, the Thursday night numbers for “Mockingjay” may have been held down by the freezing weather that’s hit the Northern Plains, upper Midwest and East Coast. Additionally, “Mockingjay” was not shown on Imax screens, unlike the two previous films, with “Interstellar” still showing at those venues.

Hollywood has been counting on “Mockingjay” to provide a jolt to the domestic business, which has lagged last year’s total by 3.6%. “Mockingjay” has been expected to become the top grosser of the year, eclipsing the $330 million for Marvel-Disney’s “Guardians of the Galaxy.”

“Mockingjay” remains likely to dominate business through the next 10 days over the Thanksgiving holiday. Two wide releases will offer competition on Wednesday — New Line’s R-rated comedy “Horrible Bosses 2” and Fox/DreamWorks toon “The Penguins of Madagascar.”

Aiming Higher Overseas

Last year’s “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire” opened with $146 million in foreign markets for an overall worldwide launch of $307 million. A 10% gain would place the “Mockingjay” foreign number at about $160 million; with $120 million in the U.S., the worldwide total could wind up around $285 million, down 7%.

“Mockingjay” has been the top opener of the year in all its early markets, including Scandinavia and Benelux.

“Mockingjay” opened in nine markets Wednesday, including France and Scandinavia, then opened in 59 markets Thursday including the U.K., Germany, Australia, Italy, Mexico and Korea. It added 17 more markets on Friday, including Spain, for a total of 85 markets, making it the biggest day-and-date release of the year and Lionsgate’s widest release ever.

However, “Mockingjay” was recently delayed in China and is now set for a first-quarter 2015 opening.

The U.K. launch generated $3.6 million including previews, up 12% from “Catching Fire.” The U.K. generated the top international gross for “Catching Fire” at $55 million.

Germany launched with $2.9 million on its first day, up 11% from “Catching Fire” for the best opening of 2014. France generated $3 million in its first two days, up more than 10% from “Catching Fire” and Belgium was up 5%.

Latin America saw gains of 40% to 55% and Russia posted a record for the biggest 2D opening day of the year with $2.7 million, up 28% from “Catching Fire.”

Australia’s opening day was $2.4 million, the best of the year while Korea was up 41% from the “Catching Fire” opening.

Analysts had forecast in recent weeks that “Mockingjay — Part 1” would take in between $925 million and $1 billion worldwide, a 7% to 16% bump from the previous film’s $865 million gross.

Disney’s third weekend of “Big Hero 6” is expected to lead the rest of the pack this weekend with about $24 million, followed by Paramount’s third weekend of “Interstellar” at around $16 million.

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    The biggest turn-off for moviegoers watching the Mockingjay preview on tv has to be the ridiculousness of the trailer. Its hard to get that incredibly asinine image of someone standing on the ground, and shooting an arrow with 100% accuracy, AT A MOVING JET!!! I mean we have missile and rocket launch grenade technology that isn’t that spot on. I can’t get myself to conform to the gullibility and stupidity it would take to make that scene believable to my eyes and mind, much less the whole using of and killing of young children for “Hunger Games.” Since when did we become a nation of amoral, morons?

  2. Tony Copelin says:

    One reason for the low turn out will be the weather in many parts of the country. This will probably mean the HG will probably have longer legs than the previous two installments as the weather clears a bit.

  3. I thought TRANSFORMERS was actually found to have opened around $98 million?

  4. Ivan says:

    When will Americans admit that US opening weekend numbers mean less and less to the financial success of a movie?

    • Why says:

      Wrong. Since the distributor’s share of the boxoffice is highest in America (50-65%), then say in China (25%), the US boxoffice is still THE most important.

  5. loco73 says:

    Articles like this are just plain idiotic! I mean, what exactly constitutes a sucess these days! The movie literally just opened!!!! We’ve become a society obsessed with quantifying, cathegorizing and analyzing everything! Sometimes just let things be!!! Can’t we just enjoy (or not) this movie without necessarily being subjected to these completely meaningless and generally moronic stats, do we really need everything solid down to the last decimal ?!?! My god, these people are writing this movie off of predictions a projections!!!!! Have you actually seen the movie? Computer models and statistical formulas do not capture the essence of what a film is!!!!

    But then again this is done by people who themselves profit from all these statistics and projections! Yet do we really want to have ALL movies done by committee and statisticians?!?! Like that no movie necessarily has financial odds on its side in today’s polling and statistics driven and saturated market!
    Think about it, if creativity begins to be determined within these parameters, most of the movies and TV shows we’ve come to love would never have been made!
    To somehow already write this movie off, based on this criteria is, as I’ve said, idiotic!

  6. TOL says:

    I thank the weather in the Northeast may had something to do with the low ticket sales.

  7. amber says:

    Just went to early showing, amazing movie but over filled theater and got to hear a baby cry for three hours. I like to go on opening weekend so a movie looks like it’s doing well, but forget it! From now on I’ll see it two weeks late at matinee to avoid the packed miserable sardine experience you get first weekend..

  8. William says:

    I think this may be a lesson to studios not to get too greedy with splitting movies in two JUST to capitalize on the title 1 more time… Add to that with the downturn in disposable incomes many people like myself just do NOT go often to first run movies at the theaters anymore. Never a 3D or imax. I tend to wait till we can get the DVD and enjoy it at home on our system and as often as we want to watch it… I will most likely go see this on a matinee on a Saturday in a standard DTS or THX viewing theater so that brings a ticket cost down to about $6 or $7 for an adult. Thats about as much as I am willing to pay to watch a movie. If its more then I just don’t go. not like back in the 90s when I went to everything every weekend and typically went in evenings or opening night at top dollar ticket prices which were around $9 to $10 a person. Now that ticket would cost closer to $20 and thats just not worth it to me. maybe some people that somehow are making money they can waste in this economy but I cant imagine its many…

    • I hope you are right about this serving as a lesson but I doubt it. reason being – they still make more money off 2 movies and concluding one’s boxoffice jumps as a rule (Deathly Hallows, Breaking Dawn both had Pt 1 slump and Pt 2 jump). I think that Kill Bill 2 is exception to the rule since Pt 2 dropped slightly. Also, there are splits already in production – Allegiant, Avengers: Infinity War, Justice League, and 4 The Stand movies. So this fad won’t die soon.

  9. ned says:

    3.8%, 152 vs 158 mil, is not far below.

  10. jhs39 says:

    One of the problems with Mockingjay Part 1 is that the third was the weakest book of the trilogy and the movie only gives you the first half of it. I also think people are getting tired of the gimmick of splitting the last book in two when all the previous books of approximately the same length get filmed as one. The decision to split the last book in two is never made because it will make the adaptation better and audiences end up feeling dissatisfaction at the partially told story and with the slower pace and less action compared with the earlier films.

  11. DougW says:

    There hasn’t seemed to be as much excitement for this installment compared with previous ones. Being a part one doesn’t help. Also, so much of it looks like it happens underground which isn’t a place you want to spend two hours. Katniss and Peeta are apart the whole film, which could also be a factor, and the cast didn’t do as much publicity as before. In the US Jennifer only appeared on Letterman, GMA and Colbert.

    • Great point about underground setting. Split hurt this in many ways – half a movie, no payoff – but it also kept everything almost entirely underground when the movie needed to get out. If they made only 1 movies, there would be balance between underground setting and attack on Capitol that takes palce on the streets. Alas, no. This boxoffice drop serves them right.

  12. Rob Crawford says:

    I am really looking forward to watching this, next year just before part II is released. There’s just something non-exciting about going to see half of a movie, then waiting another year to watch the other half. Just go to a theater sometimes, walk out half way thru the show, then come back a year later or rent it a year later and watch the 2nd half.
    Sales are down? Gee I wonder why…

    • jhs39 says:

      I think people are finally getting tired of the completely mercenary decision to break the last book in the series into two movies. Unfortunately they’re not sufficiently tired of it that studios will stop doing it. Mockingjay parts 1 & 2 will still make more money than a single film would so studios will keep pulling this out whenever they can.

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