The third film in the hit franchise earned $123 million, the biggest debut of 2014 and the fifteenth largest opening of all time, but analysts had expected it to top $150 million and Lionsgate had predicted a kick-off of between $130 million to $150 million.
It also represents a low point for the series by a sizable margin. The first “Hunger Games” debuted to $152.5 million while the second chapter, “Catching Fire,” racked up $158.1 million in its initial weekend. Those films benefited from an Imax release, which contributed more than $10 million to their inaugural grosses. Imax has committed to showing “Interstellar” on its screens until “The Hobbit: The Battle of Five Armies” bows on Dec. 17, so it could not exhibit the latest “Hunger Games” sequel.
“Mockingjay – Part 1” performed better overseas than it did domestically. The film opened to $152 million at the international box office, a 4% improvement on “Catching Fire’s” foreign debut.
Shares of Lionsgate were down between 1% to 3% Monday morning at various points, as the stock price veered in either direction. The studio’s stock began to dip on Friday when it became clear that “Mockingjay – Part 1” was not going to hit its target, falling 5% throughout the day. It continued to fall throughout pre-market trading on Monday before making up some lost ground after the New York Stock Exchange opened.
Because the franchise is so important to Lionsgate, serving as the catalyst for home entertainment, consumer products and other ancillary revenue, Wall Street keeps a close watch on the films’ performance. Lionsgate’s stock fell 10% after “Catching Fire” opened because some analysts had expected a larger opening number.