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Forecast: ‘Mockingjay’ to Three-Peat On Quiet Post-Thankgiving Weekend

by Ray Subers
The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 1
 

 
December 4, 2014

On what's sure to be one of the slowest weekends of the year, The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 1 should easily hold on to first place at the box office.

The closest thing there is to a nationwide release this week is 20th Century Fox horror movie The Pyramid, which is going out in 589 theaters—just shy of the 600 theater nationwide threshold. With a light marketing effort and moderate release, The Pyramid will almost certainly open below $5 million.

The weekend after Thanksgiving is notoriously one of the worst of the year. Instead of heading out to theaters, most moviegoers are instead focused on the beginning of the Christmas season. In the past four years, only three movies have opened nationwide on this weekend: Out of the Furnace, Killing Them Softly and The Warrior's Way all opened below $7 million and closed below $20 million.

This is a bit of a self-fulfilling prophecy: those three movies probably wouldn't have been very successful regardless, whereas it's a safe bet that The Hobbit: The Battle of Five Armies could have made plenty of money on this weekend. Still, the big six studios have taken a "better safe than sorry" approach to the weekend, and avoided it altogether for the past five years (the previously mentioned titles are from mid-majors Relativity Media and The Weinstein Company).

Playing at 589 theaters, The Pyramid will likely extend the weekend's poor track record. The micro-budget horror movie lacks any star power whatsoever, and has received a comparatively minor marketing push. In both concept and execution, the movie feels similar to August's As Above/So Below, which wrapped up with a disappointing $21.3 million.

If The Pyramid matches that movie's opening weekend per-theater average, it will wind up with $1.9 million this weekend—which is probably enough to crack the Top 10.

After playing at five theaters on Wednesday and Thursday, Wild expands to 21 locations on Friday. Reese Witherspoon is receiving a lot of awards buzz for her role as Cheryl Strayed, a woman who went on a 1,000-mile solo hike up California's Pacific Crest Trail.

While the first weekend of December is rough on wide releases, it's quite good for specialty releases (especially those with an awards angle). Last year, Inside Llewyn Davis averaged over $100,000 at four locations, while Black Swan and Up in the Air averaged $80,212 and $78,763 at 18 and 15 theaters, respectively. It's unfair to expect Wild to make it that high, though it should still do plenty of business: look for at least $500,000 total across those 21 theaters.

Forecast (December 5-7)

1. Mockingjay - $20 million (-65%)
2. Penguins - $12.5 million (-51%)
3. Big Hero 6 - $7.9 million (-58%)
4. Interstellar - $7.4 million (-53%)
5. Horrible Bosses 2 - $7 million (-55%)

Discuss this story with fellow Box Office Mojo fans on Facebook. On Twitter, follow us at @boxofficemojo, and follow author Ray Subers at @raysubers.

Related Stories:
Last Weekend's Report: 'Hunger Games' Devours Undercooked Franchise Titles Over Thanksgiving
Last Weekend's Forecast: Katniss to Fend Off 'Penguins,' 'Bosses' Over Thanksgiving



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