November 21, 2014

UPDATED: “Hunger Games” Box Office: “Mockingjay” Flies Low In Debut



FRIDAY AFTERNOON UPDATE:  Both Variety and The Hollywood Reporter are reporting, based on Friday afternoon sales, that MOCKINGJAY is going to substantially underperform THE HUNGER GAMES and CATCHING FIRE for the day, and therefore for the weekend, to an extent that goes far beyond the fact that unlike the others in the series, MOCKINGJAY isn’t playing in Imax theatres.  MOCKINGJAY is heading for a Friday in the neighborhood of $50M, which would be more than $20M below CATCHING FIRE and $17M below HUNGER GAMES.  That suggests a worst-case scenario weekend of $110M, compared to $158.1M for CATCHING FIRE and $152.5M for HUNGER GAMES, although $120M is more likely.  That, of course, is not a bad number–even $110M would be the highest opening weekend of 2014 by a factor of 10%, and a $120M weekend would be the 15th or 16th highest ever (currently SHREK THE THIRD is at #15 with $121.6M)–but nevertheless a major disappointment, especially after CATCHING FIRE outperformed HUNGER GAMES.  There will be plenty of post mortem-ing about this, starting with the decision to split the series finale into 2 parts and including the question of whether YA dystopian fantasies have peaked, but in any case Lionsgate can console itself with the likelihood that MOCKINGJAY will the strongest in the series overseas, since sequels tend to build outside the US, which could still put the installment on top of the franchise worldwide.

THE HUNGER GAMES: MOCKINGJAY PART I (Lionsgate) was unveiled last night at 8PM, and found less support from its fan-base than had been expected.  Mockingjay opened with $17M, which is considerably lower than the $25M Thursday night box office for Catching Fire–and even below the $19.7M for the first Hunger Games, which had only midnight shows.  Whether things will pick up today (the target numbers for Friday are $67.3M for Hunger Games and $71M for Catching Fire) or signs of a diminished franchise–and possibly a backlash to the studio’s decision to spread the series finale between two movies over two years–will be clear soon enough.


About the Author

Mitch Salem
MITCH SALEM has worked on the business side of the entertainment industry for 20 years, as a senior business affairs executive and attorney for such companies as NBC, ABC, USA, Syfy, Bravo, and BermanBraun Productions, and before that, at the NY law firm of Weil, Gotshal & Manges. During all that, he has more or less constantly been going to the movies and watching TV, and writing about both since the 1980s. His film reviews also currently appear on and In addition, he is co-writer of an episode of the television series "Felicity."