Sun | Apr 23, 2017

'Hunger Games' continues top run

Published:Monday | November 24, 2014 | 11:00 AM
The rebellion against Capitol begins in 'The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part 1'.
Baymax and his prodigy pal, Hiro, star in 'Big Hero 6'. - Contributed photos
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NEW YORK (AP):

Mockingjay, Part 1 didn't catch fire like the previous instalments of The Hunger Games, but it still had the biggest opening of the year, with US$123 million at the weekend box office, according to studio estimates yesterday.

Lionsgate's Mockingjay opened well below the US$158 million debut of last year's Hunger Games: Catching Fire and the US$153-million opening of the 2012 original. But even with an over US$30 million slide in the franchise, Mockingjay far surpassed the previous top weekend of the year - the US$100-million debut of Transformers: Age of Extinction.

The result made for some unusual ironies. The biggest opening of the year (and by a wide margin) was seen by some as a disappointment. After initial box office receipts of Mockingjay rolled in last Friday, forecasting a weekend below expectations, Lionsgate Entertainment's stock dipped five per cent.

But the decision to split the final book in Suzanne Collins' dystopian trilogy into two films was clearly lucrative for Lionsgate. Mockingjay did even better overseas, where it made US$152 million over the weekend, accounting altogether for a US$275-million global opening.

"It's the biggest opening of the year, so it really illustrates the strength of the franchise," said David Spitz, head of distribution for Lionsgate, noting the North American opening was the 15th-best ever.

Spitz declined to answer questions about Wall Street's reaction to the opening, or what the effect may have been of splitting the third book in two. "It speaks for itself," Spitz said of the result.

Dividing the book pushed much of the big drama of Mockingjay to the second film, scheduled for release in November 2015. On the same November weekend in 2010, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1 (which similarly split the series' last book into two) opened almost identically with US$125 million. A year later, the second Deathly Hallows film debuted bigger than all previous Harry Potter films, with US$169 million.

"A little perspective is in order here," said Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst for box office tracker Rentrak. He called the Mockingjay results "still an astonishing feat".

"I'm not worried about this franchise," Dergarabedian said.

The release calendar made way for Mockingjay, as no other new wide releases hit cinemas. In its third week of release, the Disney animated adventure Big Hero 6 moved into second place with US$20.1 million. Christopher Nolan's space epic Interstellar came in third with US$15.1 million, also in its third week.

Last week's top film, the long-in-coming sequel Dumb and Dumber To, slid considerably. The Universal comedy dropped to fourth place with US$13.8 million.

The following are the estimated ticket sales for Friday through yesterday at United States and Canadian cinemas, according to Rentrak.

1. The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part 1 (US$123 million)

2. Big Hero 6 (US$20.1 million)

3. Interstellar (US$15.1 million)

4. Dumb and Dumber To (US$13.8 million)

5. Gone Girl, (US$2.8 million)

6. Beyond the Lights (US$2.6 million)

7. St Vincent (US$2.4 million)

8. Fury (US$1.9 million)

9. Birdman (US$1.9 million)

10. The Theory of Everything (US$1.5 million)