Weekend Forecast for November 20-22, 2015

By Reagen Sulewski

November 20, 2015

Once more into the fray.

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It's the end of an era of sorts, as yet another franchise winds itself up this weekend, leaving its studio, but not its star, wondering exactly comes next.

The Hunger Games trilogy marks the end with its fourth movie – as is apparently tradition today – Mockingjay Part 2: All The Stuff You Actually Wanted To See. The post-apocalyptic young adult adaptation that launched a thousand new novel series, The Hunger Games has grossed $2.2 billion worldwide between three films, though notably dropping off in the last film, which consisted mostly of prelude. Now it gets to the fireworks factory, though one wonders how much damage was done – how many fans were lost – by chopping up the material into The Boring Part and The Action Part.

That's evident in the drop in opening weekends, to “just” $121 million, versus the $158 million of Catching Fire. With the revolution in full swing now, we may bring some of those missing viewers back, plus there's always that sense of closure. If we look at films that have chopped up their finales, we have a mixed bag of success and, not failure, but not always amazing-ness; Harry Potter set records, Twilight held its own, while The Hobbit basically limped home, feeling its bloat.


The good news – the finale of The Hunger Games seems to be at least an improvement on the last film in terms of quality (one imagines a lot of “box sets” of this film consisting of 1, 2 & 4), with Katniss' raid on the capital to finally take down President Snow proving to be both dramatically and visually compelling. The elaborate traps and bizarre engineered animals of the first three films start to finally have a point as they become a last line of defense against the rebels of the various outlying districts. I, personally, would go with a standing army but hey, it's your empire.

So it's the rare finale that leaves itself with something to prove. It's also the last hurrah for Lionsgate for a while, even as it contemplates remaking Twilight already. Jennifer Lawrence will of course be fine, as she's already got at least one other franchise to go to, plus enough residual fame to launch several other films. Hopefully, Lionsgate has figured out how to best invest its billions into new films. In the meantime, look for a decent uptick from the previous entry in the series, as average reviews and low enthusiasm took a piece out of it. Catching Fire will likely stand as the film's high watermark, and we should see about $133 million this weekend.

Unlike previous entries in the series, this Hunger Games actually has competition on its opening weekend, albeit slight. The Night Before targets 20 and 30 somethings with a drug-fueled holiday-themed movie, starring Seth Rogen, Anthony Mackie and Joseph Gordon-Levitt as a trio that have celebrated Christmas Eve as a night for excess of, well, everything. This is in part done as a bit of therapy for Gordon-Levitt's character, who lost his parents near Christmas, but also just an excuse to indulge their worst instincts. As the trio grows a bit old for this and starts to settle down, it's time for one last hurrah and the search for The Greatest Christmas Bacchanalia Ever.

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