Mockingjay Is the New Thanksgiving Bird
By John Hamann
November 30, 2014
Forget the turkey this Thanksgiving, folks. It’s all about Mockingjays and Penguins.
Yes, The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 spent its second weekend facing off against newcomers in Penguins of Madagascar and Horrible Bosses 2, and nothing overly surprising happened at the box office. Following the $122 million start for Mockingjay, it was impenetrable over the Thanksgiving frame, leaving the Penguins and those Horrible Bosses alone to fight it out. Throw in our constantly curveball throwing holdovers, Big Hero 6 and Interstellar, and spots two to five were a dogfight. In the end, the turkey frame was very similar to almost every other weekend and season this year – lower than 2013. However, five films finished the five-day portion of the weekend at or above $20 million, so there are still things to celebrate as we head into the true holiday season.
Our number one film of the weekend is The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1, as Katniss and clan climbed the peak toward $200 million and now head toward $300 million. The party hasn’t stopped for Mockingjay since it opened. It saw a low point of $9 million on Monday, but after a Tuesday of $12.1 million, a Wednesday of $14.6 million and a Thursday of $11.1 million, Lionsgate’s third film in the series had amassed $168.6 million prior to the weekend even beginning. It was now earning more on a daily basis than the original, but was still heavily lagging behind Catching Fire, which had accumulated $222.1 million before its second weekend began.
On Friday, Mockingjay took in $24.1 million, a solid number compared to its opening Friday. It was off 56% from that first Friday, very similar to the 55.5% decline of Catching Fire and a big improvement over the 72% plunge the original took. Additionally, Mockingjay had a much better second Friday than that of The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 1 (another franchise that didn’t need the last part split into two movies), as the vampy teen flick fell 77% over its second Friday, earning $16.7 million, despite handily outgrossing Mockingjay over opening weekend. This is good news for the Lionsgate franchise, as it now very clear that Mockingjay is not going to see Twilight style legs despite the somewhat poorer reception from the fanbase and critics compared to the earlier films. Also, compared to Catching Fire, Mockingjay was almost $16 million behind on opening day. On its second Friday, it was only $7.5 million behind, a sign that some Mockingjay goers may have been waiting for the long weekend to lock eyes on Jennifer Lawrence.
Over the weekend proper, Mockingjay earned $56.9 million, off a respectable 53% compared to opening weekend. That’s essentially identical to Catching Fire's second weekend drop fell a year ago. It also fell 53%, earning $74.2 million. The original fell 62%, but it opened in late March, leaving it without the safe landing pad of Thanksgiving. Breaking Dawn Part 2 fell a much higher 69% on Thanksgiving weekend after opening to $141 million. Breaking Dawn Part 1 fell a ridiculous70% on turkey weekend after opening to $138 million. The best comparison might be Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1. It opened on the pre-Thanksgiving weekend in 2010, earning a very Mockingjay-like $125 million, and then fell 61% over the turkey frame before finishing the long weekend with a cumulative total of $219.1 million. This tells me that The Hunger Games franchise continues to prosper despite a downtick over the opening frame. Remember that Deathly Hallows Part 2 went on to open $45 million better than Part 1 and outgrossed it domestically by almost $100 million.