Mockingjay Is the New Thanksgiving Bird
By John Hamann
November 30, 2014
Mockingjay now sits with $225.7 million on the domestic front, crossing the $200 million mark on Saturday, its ninth day of release. That’s only one day shorter than the time it took the original Hunger Games to hit $200 million (despite a $30 million plus lead after opening weekend), and the same time it took the two previous mega-Part 1’s, Deathly Hallows and Breaking Dawn. Next weekend will foretell the final approach for Mockingjay, as nothing new hits theaters. At the same time, that frame is one of the slower movie going weekends of the year. Even Frozen saw a monster drop last year of 53% during that calendar configuration. Overseas, Mockingjay has cleared the $250 million mark, and sits with $254 million so far. Lionsgate’s $125 million investment into Mockingjay Part 1 will pay off handsomely, but we won’t see the real payoff until Mockingjay Part 2 completes its run next year.
Second spot goes to Penguins of Madagascar, an expensive spinoff from the Madagascar franchise. Penguins was distributed by Fox but produced by DreamWorks Animation, who has seen some nightmarish results recently in the forms of Mr. Peabody & Sherman, Turbo and Rise of the Guardians. Penguins of Madagascar is certainly not going to help the DreamWorks Animation stock price, which has dropped a third in 2014 alone. Penguins got started on Wednesday, earning $6.3 million. That was a so-so start at best for the Madagascar spin-off, which has TV shows and blankets to keep the kiddies thinking about these Penguins from Africa. Its Wednesday gross was about what The Muppets did over its first day of turkey weekend in 2011. If that trend held, the Penguins were destined to finish the weekend below the $30 million mark despite tracking looking for a $30-32 million three-day weekend. The Thursday didn’t help, as Penguins earned just shy of $4 million, which meant it had $10.2 million in the tank before the weekend began.
Over the weekend proper, the Penguins flew low, earning $25.8 million. While they did bounce back admirably on Friday with a $10.2 million gross, the weekend take is simply not enough for a film that reportedly cost $132 million to make and finished softly when compared to the rest of the Madagascar franchise. The last Madagascar film, Europe’s Most Wanted, opened to $60 million, which means there wasn’t as much crossover audience as Fox and DWA would have liked. The Muppets opened to $29 million over the Thanksgiving frame in 2011 and failed to reach the $100 million mark.
The Penguins are just about as front-loaded as those Muppets were, which means that this newest animated project is going to struggle to make it to $100 million. Thus, it will have to rely heavily on overseas audiences. Luckily, this is where the Madagascar films have made their money, with the first earning $193 million domestic and $339 million overseas. The second movie's split was $180 million/$423 million and the third film's was $216 million/$530 million. If (and it’s a big if) Penguins can earn $100 million domestically and $200 million overseas, Fox might eke out a profit theatrically, but with that big $132 million budget, it will be difficult, as films normally need to earn three times their production budget to recoup theatre costs and marketing.