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Weekend Box Office: Hunger Games Devours Competition, But Opens to Franchise Low

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By Chris Kavan - 11/22/15 at 08:30 PM CT

Katniss and crew certainly didn't have any problem wrapping up their little series on top - but the result didn't quite as have as much fire as many were expecting. Meanwhile, a raunchy Christmas-themed comedy opened a bit soft while an adult thriller opened to even more disappointing numbers. One Oscar-worthy limited release got off to a blistering start while Bond took larger-than-expected tumble (though the super spy continues to dominate worldwide). All told it was an excellent weekend, but I would be lying if I said I wasn't expecting a bit more.

1) THE HUNGER GAMES: MOCKINGJAY - PART 2

The Hunger Games franchise has been a smash hit and Mockingjay Part 2 continued the run with a $101 million opening. It is only the fifth film in 2015 to hit that mark on opening. But that total is the lowest yet for the series - $20 million below Mockingjay - Part 1. It also opened lower than Part 1 world wide - $247 million compared to $273.8 million. Yet even if franchise fatigue or Star Wars anticipation or any number of factors caused it to open lower - it is still going to be a huge film. It may not reach the lofty numbers of Catching Fire, but it will land well in the $275-$280 million range. The lower opening may be a bit disappointing, but the franchise is still one of the most popular in history (all four films opened to $100 million plus after all) and the downturn, while unexpected, shouldn't diminish the impact it has had on the cinematic landscape (or the rising star power of Jennifer Lawrence). Certainly fans of the series should check it out - even if it ends on a somewhat bleaker note.

2) SPECTRE

With the Hunger Games clearly in control of the box office, Spectre had to settle for second place. The James Bond film took a larger-than-expected tumble - down over 56% - for a $14.6 million weekend and a new $153.7 million total. It crossed the $150 milestone with ease but it is now running only $12.3 million ahead of Quantum of Solace instead of the $20 million lead it enjoyed last weekend. Granted, it still will probably hit $200 million - but it is now looking like the real success Spectre is going to show is in the international market. With $524.1 worldwide, it has already topped the totals for Casino Royale and Quantum of Solace. Taking into account both domestic and international numbers it has earned $677.8 million - putting it on the fast track to topping Mission: Impossible Rogue Nation ($682.33 million) and even giving Inside Out ($850 million) a run for its money. We'll see how close it gets to Skyfall's $1.1 billion - but certainly it's going to get closer than many predicted.

3) THE PEANUTS MOVIE

Likewise dropping a spot due to The Hunger Games onslaught, The Peanuts Movie also took another hard hit, as the animated film lost 46.7% of its audience. The $12.8 million gives it a new total just below $100 million for a $98.9 million total. That is a bit worrying - as it The Good Dinosaur is going to eat up what audience it has left over the Thanksgiving holiday. The Peanuts Movie will open in more foreign territories during December, so we'll see if it gets a bit of good will overseas. Still, it will wind up making money - just maybe not as much as most animated films usually count on. It will still cross $100 million - and may near $125 million but will likely fall short of $150 million, at least in the states.

4) THE NIGHT BEFORE

I was actually expecting a bit more from The Night Before - big-name stars, a good marketing push (that actually made it look funny) and the Christmas theme - but all that only amounted to a $10.1 million opening weekend. Granted, there is a better-than-average chance The Night Before plays well throughout December - especially as it seems to be the only kid on the block (unless you count Love the Coopers - but, really?). Anyway, the film has a relatively small budget ($25 million) and despite marketing costs this will be a money-maker - it just might take a bit longer to get there than I originally would have predicted.

5) SECRET IN THEIR EYES

The movie based on the Oscar winning Spanish film has an outstanding cast but didn't exactly light up theaters with just a $6.6 million debut. A lot of that has to do with the stiff competition - adults just have a lot to choose from - not only from the popular Hunger Games and Spectre, but also the continued run from the likes of Bridge of Spies and The Martian. Secret in Their Eyes also got just mixed reviews and, essentially, got lost in the mix. Once again, an all-star cast doesn't necessarily mean an outstanding result. This is only the second release from STX (their first, The Gift, actually opened better to $11.3 million) and I think it mostly suffered because of bad timing. This won't stick around long - expect this to be lucky to hit $25 million.

Outside the top five: Expanding to nearly 600 theaters, Spotlight continued to run a wave of good reviews and awards talk and jumped 166% from 12th to 8th place with $3.6 million and a new total of $5.87 million. We'll see if it continues to expand, but results so far point to a great run.

Another recent expansion for immigrant drama Brooklyn (from 23 to 111 theaters) also gave it a nice boost - up nearly 140% and a jump from 21st to 12th place. This is another film earning raves and potential awards contention and I fully expect this to continue to expand as well.

Newly opened Carol (already prompting awards talks, especially for Cate Blanchett) had the third-best per-theater average of the year, opening to four theaters with $248,149 and a smoking $62,037-per-theater average. That's an excellent start for the period drama and we'll see if it plays like Spotlight and Brooklyn on its expansion.

In milestone news Goosebumps crossed the $75 million mark with a $1.76 million (11th place) take and a new total of $76 million.

It's going to be an early box office preview next week as, with Thanksgiving on Thursday, most films are dropping on Wednesday, including Pixar's The Good Dinosaur, the Rocky spinoff Creed and the ham-tastic Victor Frankenstein. We'll see how The Hunger Games holds up against the stiff competition.

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