Mockingjay Tops Post-Thanksgiving Fallout
By John Hamann
December 7, 2014
Like Halloween and Labor Day, it is really no surprise that this weekend’s box office bottomed out, as the post-Thanksgiving frame is always a dead zone at the box office.
A year ago over the post-turkey frame, Relativity Media tried to launch the Christian Bale film Out of the Furnace. It had a good cast, some awards potential, and had a marketing push behind it, but it opened to only $5.2 million from 2,100 venues. Sure, the subject matter was tough, but Bale was coming off The Dark Knight Rises, and it was the lone opener of the weekend. Still, with holiday shopping now in full force and those holiday season activities starting to pick up, nobody went to the movies that weekend, leaving the second weekend of Frozen to dominate, with Catching Fire pulling up in second. While the top two combined for $57.8 million, both suffered 50% plus drops, as is the trend over the post-Thanksgiving weekend. Last year, the percentage drop for films in the top ten averaged a plunge of 51.6% compared to the Thanksgiving weekend previous. As odd as it may seem, this is the norm at the box office, as ever since Analyze That flopped over the first weekend of December of 2002 and The Last Samurai started slow the following year, studios have avoided opening films on this weekend. The Tom Cruise samurai flick went on to find global success and is also a footnote in box office history, as it was the last time a new film opened in the #1 position over the post-Thanksgiving frame.
Eleven years later, and we have 11 repeats. This year is no different, as The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 remains on top for a fourth consecutive weekend. The three-peating three-quel earned $21.6 million this weekend, off an expectedly rough 62% compared to the holiday frame, where it earned a powerful $57 million. The last film in the series, Catching Fire, earned $26.2 million over the same weekend, dropping 65%. The Friday number for Mockingjay came in at $6.6 milllion, off 73% from last weekend’s Black Friday gross. Mockingjay did what it could this weekend and pushed the domestic tally across the $250 million mark on Saturday, its 16th day of release. It took the first Hunger Games 11 days to reach $250 million, while Catching Fire took eight days, so one can see how Mockingjay is lagging behind.
Mockingjay sits with $257.7 million in the domestic kitty, a number Lionsgate is going to be quite happy with. Had Mockingjay not been split into two parts, it would have made $450 million domestically and a billion worldwide, instead, Lionsgate will get the same result from Part 2 and see the revenue from Part 1 as gravy. Mockingjay Part 1 has now earned over a half-billion worldwide. The $125 million release has pulled in $303 million from overseas theaters and has yet to open in China. The original Hunger Games earned $283 million total overseas, while Catching Fire earned $440 million. Part 1 will act as marketing for Part 2 with overseas audiences, and I would expect Part 2 to substantially add to the $440 million that Catching Fire earned. Domestically, Mockingjay Part 1 should cross the $300 million mark.