Weekend Wrap-Up

Mockingjay 2 Closes The Hunger Games With Its Lowest Open

By John Hamann

November 22, 2015

War isn't usually this pretty.

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Those who argue that numbers for Mockingjay would have been higher had they not split the last book into two films are exactly right. Had Mockingjay been one film, it likely would have opened to more than both of these films, and also probably would have finished with a larger worldwide total. However, even if a one-part Mockingjay had opened to $40 million more, done an additional $100 million domestic, and another $200 million worldwide, it still pays for Lionsgate to split these into two films. Should Part 1 do exactly the same business as Part 2, Lionsgate sees $1.5 billion in cash flow versus what is likely $400 million in costs (both films cost $125 million to make, and then marketing costs are estimated). Additionally, these are theatrical costs only – the entire entertainment chain benefits financially from two films. While the perception now is that the viewer may suffer from these decisions, The Hunger Games isn’t coming back in the near term, so there is no brand to tarnish. These films have been huge successes for Lionsgate, so I wouldn’t be surprised to see an origin film (sans both Jennifer and Francis Lawrence, of course) come along in the not too near future.

That pushes Spectre down to second this weekend, as the size and power of The Hunger Games puts the pressure on James Bond. Spectre’s third frame got started with pain, as it was off 58% from its previous Friday, earning $4.3 million. Over the remainder of the weekend, it came back a bit, pulling in $14.6 million for a weekend-to-weekend drop of 57%. Quantum of Solace and Skyfall’s third weekend was Thanksgiving (they fell 30% and 14% respectively), so they aren’t the greatest comparisons. Casino Royale fell 51% earning $15 million, so you can see how Spectre is slipping somewhat domestically. So far, Spectre has earned $153.7 million domestically, making it the second biggest earner of the Daniel Craig Bond films after three weekends. Worldwide, Spectre has found almost $600 million, so this one will be fine despite its massive $250 million budget.


Third is The Peanuts Movie, which also got punished as The Hunger Games took the big theaters away. Charlie Brown and friends earned another $12.8 million this weekend, off 47% compared to last weekend. The Peanuts Movie continues to play young, which means huge increases when it moves from Friday to Saturday and Sunday. The animated film with the $100 million budget (too much) has now earned $98.9 million, and will cross the $100 million mark in the next few days. The Good Dinosaur is going to go all carnivore on The Peanuts gang next weekend.

Fourth goes to The Night Before, the new Christmas comedy with Seth Rogen. I didn’t like Sony’s decision to put this one up against The Hunger Games. The comedy would have played to its audience more next weekend, against Creed, The Good Dinosaur and Victor Frankenstein. Alternately, it might even have worked last weekend. The result is a weekend take of only $10.1 million, as the bigger venues all belong to The Hunger Games, Spectre, and The Peanuts Movie. Of course, The Night Before is made to play throughout the holiday season, but for that to happen a film needs to open to $20 million or more. Considering that the reviews were positive (65% fresh) and the Cinemascore was decent (A-), this comedy with its $25 million budget may be able to leg something out here, but it will need a pretty wild Thanksgiving to do so.

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