'Mockingjay Part 2' Creeps Over $100 Million for First Place Finish
The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 2 opened $20 million below Part 1, but with an estimated opening weekend of $101 million it becomes the fifth 2015 release to open above the century mark. It's tough to call a film that opens north of $100 million a flop (because it's not), but "disappointing" seems appropriate given the lofty heights previous installments reached. Theories as to what happened are easy enough to conjure up and most likely they all played some kind of role in why this fourth installment in what, effectively, is a three film franchise couldn't even match the opening of its predecessor.

In its favor, Mockingjay 2 opened an hour earlier on Thursday night than Part 1, it had Jennifer Lawrence as its star and it was the finale in a franchise that has now grossed more than $2.5 billion worldwide. Heading into the weekend there was something of a palpable question mark concerning how well it would do, but the aforementioned factors alone had me predicting a slight bump over its predecessor. So what happened?

One theory is a lack of impactful marketing, but that theory seems to come in two parts, one having to do with the film's marketing (where was it?) and another having to do with what's around it. Part 2 arrives two weeks after the Bond blitz with Spectre and, perhaps even more damaging, Star Wars: The Force Awakens has otherwise sucked all the air out of the room in terms of blockbuster anticipation. Additionally, the fact Part 1 wasn't as well received as Catching Fire seems to have played a part and, speaking of parts, perhaps audience fatigue over the unnecessary drawing out of these franchises is starting to show (uh oh, Divergent).

Part 2 did manage an estimated $247 million worldwide this weekend. That's $27.8m behind Part 1 's $273.8 million, which doesn't seem like much, but there are a few caveats to consider. Part 1 didn't open in China until three months after its domestic release while Part 2 brought in $16.4 million from China this weekend and of all the top countries Part 2 opened in this weekend, they all showed declining numbers. All that said, this is still a massive franchise and Part 2 is still a big hit.

Collectively, the reported budget for Mockingjay Part 1 and 2 is somewhere around $285-300 million depending on whom you source. Now consider the two Mockingjay films have grossed over $1 billion worldwide on their own and Part 2 is only in its first weekend. Flop? I don't think so, but we'd be lying to ourselves if we thought Lionsgate wasn't hoping for more. Part 1 finished at $337 million domestically, while it looks like Part 2 will finish around $250-275 million.

The weekend wasn't all Hunger Games though. Two other new wide releases hit theaters, yet neither made much of a dent. Starring Seth Rogen, Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Anthony Mackie, the R-rated, holiday-themed comedy The Night Before managed an estimated $10.1 million, well below my $17.7 million prediction. That was enough for a fourth place finish and just behind it in fifth was the Secret in Their Eyes remake.

Led by Chiwetel Ejiofor, Nicole Kidman and Julia Roberts, Secret in Their Eyes brought in an estimated $6.6 million from 2,392 theaters for a $2,773 per theater average. Hardly impressive and, regardless of quality (though the reviews aren't exactly glowing), I'm not sure who thought releasing an adult-targeted drama in a field that included Hunger Games, Spectre, Bridge of Spies and The Martian was a good idea.

Speaking of Spectre, the latest Bond film has shown some serious signs of slowing over the past few days. Last weekend it was $20 million ahead of where Quantum of Solace was at the same point in its release, but this weekend Spectre dipped 56.7% for an estimated $14.6m squeezing that lead to only $12.3 million. The release of Hunger Games this weekend didn't help and the release of Creed (which is great by the way) this coming Wednesday won't either.

A couple of expanding releases found their way into the top twelve beginning with Spotlight, which I thought would do a little better, but showed 166% growth in 598 theaters for an estimated $3.6 million ($6,026 PTA). Searchlight added 88 locations to Brooklyn's theater count where it brought in an estimated $1.15 million for a $10,360 per theater average. Both are thought to be possible Oscar contenders, which leads us to the weekend's most anticipated limited release.

Opening in four theaters, The Weinstein Co. gave New York and LA audiences a taste of Todd Haynes' Carol after a strong festival run, which started in Cannes earlier this year. Starring Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara, it opened with $248,149, $62,037 per theater. That's the third highest opening weekend average for a limited release behind Steve Jobs and Sicario.

A bit farther down the list we find Legend, which featured Tom Hardy playing twin gangsters Reggie and Ronald Kray. I caught it in Toronto back in September and was left wanting and after an opening weekend estimated at $83,000 from four theaters, I'm not expecting the rolling limited release to garner much attention. Universal will add 35 more theaters next weekend before going wide on December 13.

Thanksgiving is next week and with it comes Pixar's The Good Dinosaur, Creed and ... Victor Frankenstein? Okay, I'll admit Victor Frankenstein looks a little fun in that "so bad it's good kind of way", but largely due to the fact it stars James McAvoy and Deaniel Radcliffe who both look like they're hamming it up in all that right ways. That said, I don't expect to be talking about much more than what will likely be a 53-55% drop for Mockingjay next weekend along with a huge five-day run for both Good Dinosaur and Creed.

You can see this weekend's chart here and we'll have actuals for you on Monday afternoon.

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