Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Weekend Box Office: Another year, another Hunger Games “disappoints”

Illustration for article titled Weekend Box Office: Another year, another Hunger Games “disappoints”

To celebrate the one-year anniversary of being disappointed with the enormous opening weekend for their big hit of the year, Lionsgate is disappointed with the enormous opening weekend for their big hit of the year. The Hunger Games: Mockingjay—Part 2 made $101 million over the past four days, an obscene amount of money that was still about $22 million shy of what The Hunger Games: Mockingjay—Part 1 made almost exactly one year ago. And Part 1, remember, fell about the same amount short of Catching Fire’s opening weekend. Imagine if the studio had pulled a Peter Jackson and chopped Mockingjay into three parts. They might be looking at a wimpy $75 million next Thanksgiving.

Just as they did last year, box-office analysts are scratching their heads and adjusting their thinking caps, trying to figure out why this certifiable smash didn’t smash its competition quite as hard as everyone thought it would. Theories range from a weak ad campaign to waning YA interest to the fact that Spectre opened just two weeks earlier. Allow the A.V. Club to float a simpler hypothesis: Splitting single books into multiple installments is a stupid, creatively ruinous strategy, and audiences are very slowly starting to get wise to that fact. Of course, even if Lionsgate had let Mockingjay be one film—an undoubtedly stronger one, considering that it would have possessed a beginning, middle, and end—and that one film had destroyed box-office records, they’d still probably be looking at less money than what these two “disappointments” will end up making combined. In other words, expect more inelegantly titled, multi-part finales.

Anyway, Mockingjay—Part 1 had real legs, “failing” upwards throughout November and December, and briefly enjoying the title of last year’s biggest hit before American Sniper sniped it good. All of which is to say that Part 2 will probably do fine in the long haul, at least until The Force Awakens wipes it off the face of the planet. Certainly, there’s nothing and no one else of much danger in Katniss’ vicinity, especially with James Bond and Charlie Brown losing about half their audience in their respective third weeks of release.


Seth Rogen couldn’t much compete either, as his new starring vehicle, The Night Before, made a pretty modest $10.1 million this weekend, debuting in fourth place. Like Mockingjay, however, it’s a movie that could survive through the final weeks of the year, especially as its yuletide milieu makes it a no-brainer for December moviegoers in the holiday spirit. Besides Carol and Legend—the former of which scored the third highest opening weekend average of the year for a limited release, the latter of which did not—the only other notable box-office bow of the weekend was for Secret In Their Eyes, whose star power managed to draw only $6.6 million in ticket sales. Perhaps there’s another lesson here for movie executives: The only thing more brazen than splitting novels into multiple parts is remaking recent foreign films that did just fine with subtitles.

For more detailed numbers, visit Box Office Mojo.

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