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New in Theaters November 21: The Hunger Games - Mockingjay Part 1

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By Chris Kavan - 11/20/14 at 06:56 AM CT

While there may only be one new wide release opening this weekend - there is a reason. It turns out no one else wants to go up against one of the most lucrative and popular movie franchises out right now. The weekend is going to be dominated by one movie and one movie only - and I think it has a chance to be not just the biggest movie of the month, but could very well be the highest-grossing movie of the year. If not the top, certainly it will wind up in the top 3 for sure. We'll see how it compares to last year - the same weekend that Catching Fire debuted to a massive opening as well.

THE HUNGER GAMES: MOCKINGJAY PART 1 Boasting the most impressive volume of advance tickets of the year, the third chapter in The Hunger Games series should have a huge opening, the biggest of the year most likely, and we'll see how it stacks against the $158 million opening that Catching Fire brought in back in 2013. The tone of this film seems to have shifted - instead of pitting kids against kids or having a celebrity all-star version of the games like last time - this time the fight isn't contained, it's now a full-blown revolution. Katniss has become the face of this revolution and it is not an easy mantle to carry. It puts her family and friends in danger. One such friend is Peeta, who is still in the capital and essentially a hostage of President Snow, who will do anything he can to quash this rebellion. Jennifer Lawrence is once again front and center - and the franchise really got a boon by casting her. She has proven time and time again that she can be both a badass action star while still bringing emotion to the table. The big new arrival for this film is Julianne Moore as President Coin (the good guys' president) along with Game of Thrones alum Natalie Dormer (sporting a unique hairdo) and Robert Knepper and joining a long list of talented actors: Woody Harrelson, the late Philip Seymour Hoffman, Donald Sutherland as the icy Snow (pun totally intended), Liam Hemsworth, Elizabeth Banks, Jena Malone, Sam Claflin, Stanley Tucci and Jeffrey Wright just to name a few. I think Mockingjay looks like it has grown up - much like the Harry Potter films before them, each subsequent film feels like an evolution of sorts - more serious and, dare I say, more sophisticated. While movies like The Hunger Games might not win the awards or accolades, they win the box office because they are good to watch. If a movie like Foxcatcher and The Theory of Everything are the main entree, Hunger Games is the dessert - maybe not as filling or well-rounded as the main dish, but it's the part of the meal most people most look forward to. Now we'll wait for the numbers to roll in and see just how big it can get.

With Hunger Games taking up the bulk of the excitement this weekend, I don't see a lot of room for any of the other films to make much of a racket over the weekend. The only thing to keep an eye on is how the award season limited release films continue to do as they up their theater count. See you on Sunday when we'll find out if Mockingjay Part 1 can shatter a few records.>/p>


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