Universal-Legendary’s horror-comedy “Krampus” is headed for a better-than-expected $16 million opening weekend at 2,902 U.S. theaters, according to early estimates on Friday.
“Krampus” will be the top film on Friday with $6.5 million, edging out Lionsgate’s “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2” with $5.9 million. “Mockingjay 2” will still win the traditionally soft post-Thanksgiving weekend with about $19 million, while “Krampus” and Disney-Pixar’s “The Good Dinosaur” will battle for second place.
New Line-MGM’s second weekend of “Rocky” spinoff “Creed” should follow in fourth with about $14 million.
“Krampus” is the only major studio release on the post-Thanksgiving weekend and Warner Bros.’ whale tale “In the Heart of the Sea” will be the only new film opening next weekend as moviegoers begin to focus on the Dec. 18 launch of “Star Wars: The Force Awakens.”
“This weekend has an after-the-party feel, given that people really caught up on their moviegoing during the five-day Thanksgiving period,” said Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst with Rentrak.
“These two weekends are really the calm before storm, given the level of anticipation for ‘Star Wars,” he added. “It’s a smart move by Universal to get ‘Krampus’ out this weekend, which is a very different movie with a distinct fan base.”
Box office forecasts in recent days had estimated that “Krampus” would take in between $11 million and $13 million this weekend so Friday’s performance is a pleasant surprise for Universal — which has dominated in market share this year. Adam Scott and Toni Collette co-star in the $15 million production, which centers on the Krampus character of Alpine folklore, who punishes misbehaving children during the Christmas season.
Most analysts had pegged “Mockingjay 2” as the winner for the third straight weekend with as much as $23 million. The Jennifer Lawrence tentpole will finish the weekend at about $227 million in the U.S. as it passes Fox’s “The Martian” as the sixth-highest domestic grosser of 2015.
“Mockingjay 2” has also grossed nearly $250 million overseas. It’s likely to wind up as the lowest domestic grosser in the franchise, finishing behind “Mockingjay 1” at $337 million.
Dergarabedian said the final films in franchises often can’t duplicate the performance of the prior iterations.
“Any film that opens over $100 million is putting up a very good number,” he added. “I also think that the anticipation over the new ‘Star Wars’ may have also had an impact.”
“The Good Dinosaur” will wind up the weekend with a total of about $76 million in its first 12 days. Given its status as the only family film in the market, the animated comedy may remain a decent draw in coming weeks but it will fall short of the high bar set by other Pixar titles — most recently “Inside Out,” which grossed over $850 million worldwide.
“Creed,” starring Michael B. Jordan and Sylvester Stallone, was estimated at $4.4 million on Friday and should wind up the weekend with a 12-day total of about $63 million — making the $27 million movie a profitable venture for Warner Bros. and MGM.