“The Hunger Games” continued to give Lionsgate reasons to be thankful this holiday season after “Mockingjay – Part 1,” the latest installment in the blockbuster franchise, dominated the box office.
Katniss Everdeen and her band of rebels hit the bullseye, delivering $11.1 million on Thanksgiving. Though “Mockingjay – Part 1″ will fall short of its predecessor “Catching Fire’s” record-breaking $110 million over last year’s five-day holiday, it is on pace to be the week’s top-grossing film with roughly $80 million. Domestically the film has made $168.6 million and has crossed $200 million internationally, bringing the estimated worldwide total to $370 million to date.
With “Hunger Games” establishing a commanding lead, the week’s other new releases, “Horrible Bosses 2″ and “Penguins of Madagascar,” are struggling to carve out some space at the table. “Penguins of Madagascar,” a spin-off of DreamWorks Animation’s $1.8 billion grossing “Madagascar” franchise, picked up $3.9 million from 3,750 theaters. The film cost $132 million to make and was expected to bring in between $42 million to $44 million for the five days through Sunday. It has generated $10.2 million stateside since opening on Wednesday, softer than expected. That means the film will have trouble topping $40 million.
“Penguins of Madagascar” is providing a family-friendly entertainment option, while “Horrible Bosses 2″ is pitched at older crowds on the prowl for R-rated laughs. Produced by New Line for $43 million, the film brings back Jason Sudeikis, Charlie Day and Jason Bateman as a trio of hapless criminals, while introducing Christoph Waltz and Chris Pine as new foils. “Horrible Bosses 2″ earned $3.1 million on Thanksgiving. It is on pace to bring in roughly $30 million over the five-day holiday period, lower than the $35 million it was originally expected to make. Since opening on Tuesday night, the “Bosses” sequel has generated $7.3 million in ticket receipts.
“Penguins of Madagascar” had to duke it out with “Big Hero 6″ for the affections of families. The Disney release debuted at the beginning of November, but four weeks later is still going strong. It earned $3.1 million on Thursday, bringing its domestic total to $148.4 million.
“Interstellar,” Christopher Nolan’s space odyssey, should bring in $20 million over the holiday, benefiting from its continued presence on Imax screens. Imax has committed to showing “Interstellar” until “The Hobbit: Battle of Five Armies” bows on Dec. 17. The science-fiction adventure earned more than $3 million on Thanksgiving day.
It’s not all blockbusters and children’s films. Friday brings the release of Oscar contender “The Imitation Game.” The biopic about code breaker Alan Turing debuts in four theaters in New York and Los Angeles. It will launch a major expansion in December.
“Theory of Everything,” another likely Best Picture nominee, grossing $727,000 on Thursday. The biopic about astrophysicist Stephen Hawking has made $4.5 million since opening on Nov. 7. It is moving from 140 theaters to 802 domestic locations on Friday.
This year’s Thanksgiving will struggle in comparison to 2013’s when “Catching Fire” and “Frozen” became the first and second highest grossing films in the holiday’s history.
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John Paul the Great Catholic University, Escondido, California