Among the heavy hitters at the multiplex, “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1” is best positioned to dominate ticket sales. In its second weekend of release, the third chapter in the blockbuster franchise should pull in $55 million and $80 million to $85 million for the five-day holiday period.
The latest “Hunger Games” had its debut weekend to itself, but it won’t be so lucky this time around. “Penguins of Madagascar,” DreamWorks Animation’s spin-off from its hit “Madagascar” series, will try to rope in the family crowd, while “Horrible Bosses 2” takes aim at older audiences looking for some R-rated laughs.
“The market is going to stay healthy,” said Phil Contrino, vice president and chief analyst at BoxOffice.com. “I like the combination of ‘Penguins’ and ‘Horrible Bosses.’ That’s smart counter-programming.”
Look for “Penguins of Madagascar” to pull in $34 million for the weekend, and between $45 million to $47 million for the five-day holiday. Produced for $132 million, the film finds the “Madagascar” penguins embroiled in an espionage caper. It will bow on 3,750 theaters.
DreamWorks Animation could use a hit. Its stock price tends to rise and fall on the opening weekend’s of the studio’s films, and DreamWorks Animation could use a conversation changer after deals to sell the company to Hasbro and Softbank failed to materialize in recent weeks.
“Horrible Bosses 2” brings back the three leads from the 2011 black comdey (Jason Sudeikis, Charlie Day and Jason Bateman) and follows them as they seek revenge on a former investor (Christoph Waltz) who undermined their start-up. Chris Pine plays Waltz’s son.
Produced for $43 million, the film should pull in $35 million for the five-day period and $28 million for the weekend. It debuts in 3,321 locations at mid-week and expands to 3,375 on Friday.
“The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1” has the advantage in terms of pre-sales, with “Penguins of Madagascar” and “Horrible Bosses 2” being the second and third most popular ticket on Fandango.
The holiday week is one of Hollywood’s busiest times, but this “Turkey Day” is looking a little leaner than years past. For one thing, November has fielded just seven wide releases, far fewer than the ten or more films that usually debut in the month.
Although “Horrible Bosses 2” and “Penguins of Madagascar” will have hefty slices of the overall box office pie, they may have trouble matching last Thanksgiving’s record-breaking numbers. In 2013, “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire” and “Frozen” set high-water marks for the season of pilgrims and cranberry sauce, recording the largest and second largest three-day and five-day Thanksgiving grosses of all time. Don’t look for history to repeat itself.
Beyond the lack of a Princess Elsa, there’s the possibility of seasonal snow drifts disrupting movie outings. The Northeast is bracing for snow on Wednesday and depending on its severity, the box office could be impacted.
“You can’t fight Mother Nature,” said Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst with Rentrak. “People will often seek solace at the movie theater, but they have to be able to get there. One thing that happens during the holidays that studios don’t have to deal with during the summer is the uncertainty and unpredictability of the weather.”
Among holdovers, “Big Hero 6” should pry some of the family crowd away from “Penguins of Madagascar,” while “Interstellar” will benefit from its continued presence on Imax screens, which it gets to hold onto until “The Hobbit: The Battle of Five Armies” debuts on Dec. 17. Those two films should experience only infinitesimal dips from last weekend, when “Big Hero 6” pulled in $20.1 million and “Interstellar” earned $15.3 million.
Some of the major Oscar contenders will also try take advantage of the holiday. “Theory of Everything,” the acclaimed Stephen Hawking biopic, will expand from 140 theaters to more than 700 on Wednesday, while “The Imitation Game,” a look at the life of code breaker Alan Turing, will debut in four theaters in New York and Los Angeles in advance of a wider roll out next month.