Jennifer Lawrence is providing most of the box office heat during the post-Thanksgiving weekend with “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay — Part 1” heading for as high as $23 million in the U.S., according to early Friday estimates.
That’s about double the nearest rival, Fox and DreamWorks’ second weekend of “The Penguins of Madagascar.”
Friday estimates showed Lionsgate’s “Mockingjay” — now in its third weekend — set to take in $6.8 million, with forecasts for about $10.5 million on Saturday and $5.4 million Sunday for a decline of about 60%.
Should those numbers hold, “Mockingjay” will finish the weekend with a 17-day U.S. total near $259 million, or 23% below the 17-day total for “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire” at the same point last year.
Still, “Mockingjay” will surpass “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” on Sunday or Monday as the second-highest domestic grosser of 2014. It will need another $72 million to eclipse “Guardians of the Galaxy” at $331 million for the top slot, but it’s unlikely that “Mockingjay” will catch “Catching Fire” at $425 million.
On the international side, “Mockingjay” should take in at least $30 million to cross the $300 million mark. With the China launch still to come, the movie could eventually match the $440 million international total for “Catching Fire.”
“Penguins” will finish a distant second with between $11 million and $12 million, representing a 55% decline following $2.6 million on Friday. The toon spinoff should hit a 12-day total of $50 million in the U.S. by the end of the weekend.
New Line’s second weekend of “Horrible Bosses 2” should follow in third with a decline around 42%. The comedy sequel took in an estimated $2.8 million on Friday, with projections of around $9 million for the weekend and a 12-day cume in the $36 million area.
A pair of holdovers in their second month should wind up in the next two spots. Disney’s “Big Hero 6” will take in around $7.5 million to push its U.S. cume to $177 million; Paramount’s “Interstellar” should gross about $5.7 million and wind up with a $156 million domestic total.
Studios have usually shunned the post-Thanksgiving period, relying on holdover titles. The second weekend of “Frozen” won the weekend last year with $31 million, followed by the third weekend of “Catching Fire” at $26 million while the Christian Bale drama “Out of the Furnace” grossed only $5.2 million in its opening for Relativity.
The one new release this weekend is “The Pyramid,” a micro-budget, found-footage horror film from Fox, with early estimates forecasting around $1 million at 589 locations.
Open Road’s “Nightcrawler” is doubling its screen count to about 1,200 locations. The thriller has grossed $10.4 million since its launch on Halloween.