Silence in the world of Panem

‘Hunger Games: Mockingjay — Part 2’ debuts to franchise-low with $101 million

Reuters November 23, 2015
Cast members Liam Hemsworth (L), Jennifer Lawrence (C) and Josh Hutcherson (R) pose at the premiere of The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 2 in Los Angeles. PHOTO: REUTERS


The Hunger Games: Mockingjay — Part 2 dominated the weekend box office. The final film in the science-fiction franchise debuted to $101 million, but even that massive figure wasn’t as big a sendoff for Katniss Everdeen and her fellow revolutionaries as some had predicted.

The bow ranks as the year’s fifth biggest opening, but it falls short of tracking that projected the picture would top $120 million in its initial weekend in theaters. It also represents a low for the series, falling far short of the $158.1 million high-water mark established by 2013’s The Hunger Games: Catching Fire. It’s a sign, perhaps, that interest in the dystopian world of Panem has crested.

Investors in Lionsgate, the studio behind the series, reacted negatively to news that Mockingjay — Part 2 would miss projections, sending the company’s stock down more than 3% on Friday. For its part, the studio was put in the odd position of almost having to defend a debut that ranks among the largest in movie history.

Jennifer Lawrence in Hunger Games farewell

“It’s a phenomenal opening and we launched these movies at this time consciously knowing there’d be a lucrative long run way through the holidays,” said David Spitz, Lionsgate’s domestic distribution chief.

The series made up some ground overseas, picking up $147 million after debuting in nearly every significant foreign territory, including China. That left it with a worldwide haul of $247 million, less than the $274.9 million global kickoff enjoyed by Mockingjay — Part 1 and far below the $300 million weekend that some analysts had predicted.

“Across the board this is just down and it’s a direct reflection of how people thought about [‘Mockingjay — Part 1],” said Jeff Bock, a box office analyst with Exhibitor Relations. “That was not a film. It was just a trailer.”

Jennifer Lawrence ranked ‘most valuable star’

Lionsgate spared no expense in planning a farewell to its most valuable series. It spent nearly $200 million to make and market the film. In the US the film did well in premium formats, earning an estimated $9.8 million, and Imax, where it picked up $8.5 million.

With Mockingjay — Part 2 sucking most of the air out the multiplexes that left two new releases, Sony’s The Night Before and STX/IM Global’s The Secret In Their Eyes, struggling to get some recognition. The Night Before, a bawdy comedy with Seth Rogen and Joseph Gordon-Levitt, fared best, earning $10.1 million from 2,960 theaters. The film cost $23 million to make, and drew an opening weekend crowd that was evenly split between men and women.

The weakness of the new films allowed holdovers Spectre and The Peanuts Movie to pad their box office results. The latest Bond adventure added $14.6 million to its $153.7 million domestic haul, nabbing second place on the charts. The Peanuts Movie finished third, picking up $12.8 million to push its stated total to $98.9 million.

Possible end of adventure for ‘Hunger Games’ stars

With Hunger Games: Mockingjay — Part 2 not hitting as big a bullseye as other pictures in the series, the overall box office tumbled. Ticket sales were down roughly 10% for the weekend, down from the year-ago period that fielded Mockingjay — Part 1’s $121.9 million opening.

“The overall marketplace is slow,” said Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst at Rentrak. “There are too many movies, too many distractions, and so much going on in the world right now.”

Published in The Express Tribune, November 24th,  2015.

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