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Weekend Box Office: Mockingjay Tops Penguins, Horrible Bosses 2 is a Turkey

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By Chris Kavan - 11/30/14 at 08:29 PM CT

The long Thanksgiving holiday weekend meant that families had plenty of time to spend quality time together - and maybe catch a movie (either together, or to get away for awhile). Mockingjay cast its spell for a second straight weekend, as the newcomer proved to be a bit of a disappointment. While Catching Fire and Frozen helped the 2013 skyrocket - this year the overall total was off 20%. While the wide releases continued to be problematic, the same can't be said for the awards season hopefuls as one expansion and one debut led to some impressive totals.


Once again the YA franchise topped the box office with a $56.87 million total. It dropped the exact same amount Catching Fire did in its second weekend (53%) and raised its total up to $225.7 million. While its still a far cry from Catching Fire, if it stays on the same path, it will wind up with around $325 million - second only to Guardians of the Galaxy for the year, though many might see that as a loss rather than a strong second-place showing. It has at least one more week to flex its muscles before mid-December brings on a slew of big-budget titles to compete for the top spot.


While Penguins of Madagascar ran second to Mockingjay, the result wasn't nearly as close as expected. The Madagascar spinoff brought in $25.8 million ($36 million for the holiday time frame). That result is well below the previous two Madagascar films, both of which opened to $60 million plus over a standard three-day weekend. In fact, the best (and unfortunate) comparison would be the to Rise of the Guardians - considered a flop on its own - which opened to $32.3 million also over Thanksgiving - Penguins posted a modest 11% gain over that film - though that's not a lot to cheer about. Dreamworks has had a rough time of late - it's last six films have opened below $33 million and none have grossed more than $115 million. Penguins did earn an "A-" Cinemascore - the audience was just pretty much evenly split between male and female while 58% was under 25. 3D screens accounted for just 24% of the total. Even if word-of-mouth is good - and even if competition for family films is scarce, there is a good chance Penguins winds up with less than $100 million.


Though Penguins provided direct competition to Disney's animated superhero film, Big Hero 6 stood quite strong, dipping just under 7% from last week. Taking in $18.77 million, the film stands at $167.2 million after four weeks. Again, with Penguins faltering and no real competition in site, Big Hero 6 should have no trouble crossing $200 million before it finally leaves theaters.


Interstellar may have dropped a spot from last weekend, but thanks to its dominance in IMAX theaters, the film actually gained 3% compared to last weekend - earning $15.8 million on its way to a new total of $147.1 million. It will cross the $150 million mark in the new few days and should top out at around the $170 million mark.


Poster for Horrible Bosses 2 While Penguins certainly struggled over the weekend, Horrible Bosses 2 outright laid an egg. The film brought in $15.7 million for the weekend and just $23 million over the Thanksgiving period. That represents a pretty massive 45% drop over the original film's $28.3 (over just three days). It was well below the five-day opening of Anchorman 2 ($39.5 million) - a sequel that itself was considered far inferior to the original. With just a so-so "B+" Cinemascore and considering holiday weekend tend to be front-loaded, Horrible Bosses 2 will be lucky to make it to $50 million. Why the sudden drop? Sequels by and far tend to open lower than the predecessors - unless you have a really popular title (the Harry Potter, Marvel, Star Wars, Hunger Games) or are incredibly well-liked (21 Jump Street to 22 Jump Street) banking on a sequels is always a gamble. There just wasn't enough good will, nor enough popularity, to propel Horrible Bosses 2 to anywhere other than mediocrity.

Outside the top five: Award-season lock The Theory of Everything, with Eddie Redmayne giving his all for the Stephen Hawking biopic, added a nice 662 theaters to its count (now in 802 total) and jumped over 236% - from 10th to 7th place - with $5.08 million. The film now stands at $9.6 million. In comparison, Birdman only took in $2.5 million in its nationwide expansion earlier in the year. Thus far, Theory is even tracking ahead of Dallas Buyers Club - we'll see if that means the film will have as good of luck during awards season.

Meanwhile, the limited debut of The Imitation Game earned $482,000 in just four theaters for a per-theater-average of $120,500 - the second best of the year behind Grand Budapest Hotel and the 7th-best limited opening ever for a live-action film. That even topped the The King's Speech, which averaged $88,863 in its original outing. Granted, Imitation Game may not be able to match that film's long-term success, but it does mean it has a better-than-average chance to catch on with general audiences. It will surely expand - we'll see where the advantage lies then.

Next week is going to be quiet, with just the horror film The Pyramid and the Reese Witherspoon-led Wild opening. Mockingjay should once again lead the pack without much effort.


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