Weekend Box Office: Not Quite As Hungry This Time

We knew that the ‘Hunger Games’ finale would top the box office this weekend, but the franchise’s picture-over-picture decline is rather surprising. Unfortunately, that’s not the only new movie to perform below expectations.

The ‘Hunger Games’ franchise started with incredible strength and momentum. Although it has come to a close with unarguable box office success, it’s interesting to see how much less the final chapter opened to compared to its predecessors. The original ‘Hunger Games‘ premiered to a massive $152.5 million in 2012. ‘Catching Fire‘ debuted even stronger with $158 million, but then ‘Mockingjay, Part 1‘ opened substantially lower with $121.8 million. Now, ‘The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part 2‘ debuted quite a bit lower than that with $101 million. Overseas, the finale also opened below ‘Part 1’ (which hit $152 million internationally), but not as significantly low (this one’s down to $146 million). With an estimated budget of $125 million and a forecasted domestic cumulative total in the $250 million range, ‘Mockingjay, Part 2’ will still be a studio hit, but not in the way that the first two series installments were. Even among the fans of the original novels, the last book has been considered the let-down of the series. It appears that the looming dislike of the ‘Mockingjay’ book carried over to moviegoers. The final entry in the series is likely to stick around the Top 10 for a few weeks, but won’t have the staying power that we saw with the others.

Three weeks in, ‘Spectre‘ finished in second place, but took its first big hit at the box office. The latest James Bond flick dropped nearly 57% in attendance. Its $14.6 million weekend brought the film’s domestic 21-day total up to $153.7 million, which is nowhere near where ‘Skyfall‘ was at this point. (In its third week, ‘Skyfall’ had $221.1 million in the bank.) However, overseas moviegoers are still continuing to fuel the latest 007 title at incredible rates. Internationally, ‘Spectre’ has grossed $524.1 million, giving it a worldwide total of $677.8 million.

The Peanuts Movie‘ finished in third place with a decent 47% decline in attendance. The movie’s $12.8 million weekend brought its domestic total just thousands away from matching its $99 million production budget. With Pixar’s ‘The Good Dinosaur’ opening in two days, it’s likely that ‘Peanuts’ will fall off from here and not climb too much higher above its current $98.9 million total. Now showing in eight international markets, the film is struggling to find an audience overseas. To date, it has only earned $9.8 million from those regions, which include Italy and China.

The Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Seth Rogen crude Christmas comedy ‘The Night Before‘ kicked off its opening weekend with a so-so $10.1 million. After the serious underperformance of last year’s ‘The Interview‘, Rogen’s audience may be leaving him behind.

Speaking of stars who’ve lost their box office power, the fifth-place picture was Julia Roberts’ ‘The Secret in Their Eyes‘. The drama’s $6.6 million debut and $2,773 per-screen average mark the lowest opening in Roberts’ career. This remake was reportedly produced for $19.5 million, which will be tough to recoup with a slow start like this.

In limited release, Todd Haynes’ ‘Carol‘ opened to the third-best per-screen average of the year behind ‘Steve Jobs’ ($130,382) and ‘Sicario’ ($66,881). From four locations, ‘Carol’ collected $248,149 and a per-screen average of $62,037. The Weinstein Company is set to expand the limited release next weekend and take the movie nationwide in the following weeks.

British gangster film ‘Legend‘ opened at four locations to a decent $83,000. With a $20,750 per-screen average, Universal will expand it in the coming weeks.

Top 10:

1. ‘The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2’ (Lionsgate) – $101,025,000

2. ‘Spectre’ (Sony) – $14,600,000

3. ‘The Peanuts Movie’ (Fox) – $12,800,000

4. ‘The Night Before’ (Sony) – $10,100,000

5. ‘The Secret in Their Eyes’ (STX) – $6,633,000

6. ‘Love the Coopers’ (CBS) – $3,925,000

7. ‘The Martian’ (Fox) – $3,700,000

8. ‘Spotlight’ (Open Road) – $3,603,466

9. ‘The 33’ (Warner Bros.) – $2,240,000

10. ‘Bridge of Spies’ (Buena Vista) – $1,945,000


  1. I know why ‘The Peanuts Movie’ isn’t scoring big bucks overseas. It has nothing to do with the quality of the movie or the starpower of the voice actors: the ‘Peanuts’ property isn’t super famous in other countries, compared to (for example) ‘Garfield’. I, for one, have always known the Snoopy character (my father and his gang of friends used the Peanuts aliases in the 70’s), but the franchise has never seen major success (at least in Belgium, the Netherlands, France, Germany, Spain …)

    ‘The Peanuts Movie’ hasn’t come out in Belgium, but they’ve changed the name to ‘Snoopy and the Peanuts Movie’. To emphasize the break-out character, and the one most people are likely to know.

      • Deaditelord

        That’s always been my theory on why Adventures of Tintin failed here. it certainly wasn’t due to quality since it’s a wonderfully entertaining movie – the great Indiana Jones sequel that Crystal Skull should have been. Really looking forward to Peter Jackson’s sequel.

      • Bolo

        Is there a reason why don’t Americans like Tintin? I can’t figure out why the comics never caught on there. Did they just not find a good distributor in USA?

          • Deaditelord

            I hate to say it, but I suspect some, shall we say, “less informed” people may have thought Tintin was referring to the adventures of the dog Rin Tin Tin. It also doesn’t help that Americans associate comics with superheroes like Superman or Batman or comic strips like Peanuts or Calvin and Hobbes.

          • William Henley

            Tintin started in 1932. I would have to say distribution was a huge factor. Most of the US comic strips are distributed by United, and other comics just are not going to get picked up otherwise. With it starting in 32, there was also huge sense of seperatism in the US from the rest of the world, This probably didn’t start to change until the 40s, and then you would have the issue with getting the strips to the US distributor in a timely manner (I am sure fax machines were used by newspapers before then, but I am not sure how reliable that was for sending transatlantic, and was probably very expensive). As such, by the time technology was probably around to allow easy distribution trans-atlantic, I am sure the strip had already been running 15-20 years.

            So I would have to say the reason it never caught on in the US had to do with when the strip started combined with an America First policy, and throwing in issues with finding a distributor and technology and costs to get it to the US distributor in a timely manner. By the time all those issues were taken care of, it was an old comic strip.

          • The comic started in 1929, even. As to why it never caught on in America, I’m not quite sure. In the beginning, author Hergé used stereotypes and tropes that have dated terribly and may have hampered American success (‘Tintin in America’ is basically cowboys versus Indians), but starting from ‘The Blue Lotus’ (the fifth volume), he strived for an extreme realism that led to significant acclaim. His ‘Destination Moon’ (published 16 years before the actual first lunar mission) is incredibly detailed and almost scientifically accurate to a ridiculous degree.

            The first American editions were also censored. Never a good idea.

        • EM

          I like both. And now I’m picturing a crossover movie. Snoopy vs. Milou! Tintin and Charlie Brown team up to find their lost dogs! Dupond & Dupont battle the kite-eating tree!

          • Deaditelord

            Captain Haddock teaches the Wah, Wah, Wah, Wah, Wah teacher about the joys of booze and in a startling revelation we find out that’s why nobody can understand what the hell she is saying! 🙂

  2. To put the Hunger Games numbers in perspective, $101 million may be down quite a bit from the franchise’s previous installments, but it’s still $28 million higher than Spectre opened with, and it probably cost $100 million to $150 million less to produce. (I can’t find budget numbers for Mockingjay 2, but I assume it’s comparable to the $125 million that Mockingjay 1 cost. The budget for Spectre was originally reported at $300 million, but the official number appears to have been downgraded to $245 million recently.)

    • William Henley

      Thanks Josh, I was reading the article in complete confusion – Luke wrote it like the numbers were a disappointment, and I just could not see how a movie that pulls in $100 million on opening weekend could be seen as anything other than a huge success.

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