Mockingjay nests at top of box office
THE third Hunger Games movie, Mockingjay Part 1 (Lionsgate), sold an estimated US$123 million (S$160 million) in tickets at North American cinemas over the weekend - by far Hollywood's largest opening of the year, but one that nonetheless marked a substantial comedown for the mega-franchise.
Exhibitors and some box-office analysts had been hoping - perhaps irrationally given the film's relative lack of action, the inevitability of franchise fatigue and broader box-office weakness - that Mockingjay Part 1 would match or come close to its series predecessor, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, which took in US$158.1 million over its first three days last November.
Mockingjay Part 1, which cost roughly US$125 million to make and finds Jennifer Lawrence reprising her role as archer Katniss Everdeen, albeit in a much more sombre fashion, was also unfavourably affected by Imax, which opted to devote all of its domestic cinemas to a third weekend of Christopher Nolan's Interstellar.
Imax, which charges a premium for tickets, contributed US$12.6 million to the opening gross of Catching Fire.
Strong overseas ticket sales for Mockingjay Part 1 picked up some of the slack. Released in 85 international markets, Mockingjay Part 1 took in an additional US$152 million, with Britain, Germany and Russia reporting ticket sales that were 5 to 19 per cent higher than those of Catching Fire, according to Lionsgate.
"If a franchise declines in North America from film to film, it doesn't mean as much as it used to because international growth is so phenomenal," said Phil Contrino, chief analyst at BoxOffice.com.
No other movies opened in wide release. For the weekend in North America, Big Hero 6 (Disney) was second, with ticket sales totalling US$20.1 million for a three-week total of US$135.7 million, according to Rentrak, which compiles box-office data.
Interstellar (Paramount Pictures) was third, taking in about US$15.1 million for a three-week total of US$120.7 million.