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‘Hunger Games’ Finale Eyes Massive $125 Million Debut

Katniss Everdeen is certain to score a big sendoff when “The Hunger Games” franchise comes to a close this weekend. But just how massive a farewell is a matter of some debate.

Some tracking suggests that “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2” will launch to $120 million, which would be the weakest opening in franchise history. However, analysts expect that the film will hit $125 million or higher, putting it just above “Mockingjay – Part 1’s” $121.9 million bow, but below the first film’s $152.5 million opening and the second picture’s $158.1 million kick-off. If it falls anywhere inside the range of estimates, “Mockingjay – Part 2” will likely be the year’s fourth-biggest opening, behind “Jurassic World,” “Avengers: Age of Ultron” and “Furious 7” — a sign of the impressive array of global blockbusters that have hit theaters in recent months.

In the past, Lionsgate’s stock has been battered when the “Hunger Games” sequels failed to match the loftiest projections, so there’s a reason for the studio to be cautious. Regardless of Wall Street’s reaction, box office prognosticators believe there’s a lot to celebrate.

“A lot has to be said for film that can open to more than $100 million with ease,” said Jeff Bock, an analyst with Exhibitor Relations. “I think this will be more like ‘Harry Potter’ where we see an uptick at the series’ end.”

Indeed, the last “Harry Potter” film scored a series-best opening of $169.2 million when it debuted in 2011, but it’s not clear if the fan enthusiasm for Katniss and crew is growing or has peaked.

A final theater count is still being determined, but “Mockingjay – Part 2” will premiere in roughly 4,000 screens. Unlike the first “Mockingjay,” this film will get an Imax release. Last year, the wide screens were being held for Christopher Nolan’s “Interstellar,” something that may have depressed ticket sales because it meant Lionsgate didn’t get the benefit of some premium ticket prices. It will not be released in 3D domestically.

“Mockingjay – Part 2” won’t have the multiplexes entirely to itself. Sony will debut the Seth Rogen comedy “The Night Before” and STX Entertainment is offering the Julia Roberts and Chiwetel Ejiofor thriller “Secret in Their Eyes.”

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