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Friday Box Office: ‘Mockingjay’ Best 2014 Opener, Hits Franchise Low

Friday Box Office: 'Mockingjay' Best 2014 Opener, Hits Franchise Low

“The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1” (Lionsgate) added $38 million to its Thursday night gross of $17 million for an initial take of $55 million. This compares to $71 million for “Catching Fire” exactly a year ago and $67 million for the initial series entry in March 2012, and $71 million for the final two “Twilights.”( “The Avengers” opened to $81 million, the final “Harry Potter” $91 million mid-summer.) It’s a big number, the best of the year, but the fall off is yet another indication of the ongoing pattern of decline in domestic response to presumed blockbuster/franchise films. That in turn has been the biggest factor the 3%-plus drop in overall box office this year.

The good news for “Mockingjay” from the split two-day number is that yesterday’s number more than doubled the Thursday night shows, while last year the same figure was somewhat less than twice the take. This comes despite a slightly lower Cinemascore (A-, compared to A for the first two series films). Also, international numbers for countries where the film opened so far (some on Wednesday) show results up a bit from last year. This should easily be a $750 million-plus worldwide success.

The impact overall – no other new wide release dared challenge Kittness – led to a Top Ten take down 18% from the same Friday last year. Any chance of Jennifer Lawrence and company leading the charge to box office equity with last year’s total has disappeared.

The rest of the Top Ten combined only grossed $17 million, with three films combined contributing $13 million of this. “Big Hero 6” (Buena Vista), “Dumb and Dumber To” (Universal) and “Interstellar” (Paramount) in order bunched closely somewhat over $4 million. “Hero” will be an easy second place weekend placer, while “Interstellar,” with another normal third week fall should edge out the quickly dropping “Dumb” to take third place.

David Fincher’s “Gone Girl” (20th Century Fox) and “Beyond the Lights” (Relativity) both took in around $800,000 – the former already in its eighth week and likely to end up in the top five yet another time, an amazingly long run of success for an R-rated drama this time of year. Another long-run entry, “St. Vincent” (Weinstein) placed seventh with $640,000. “Fury” (Sony) was eighth with $540,000.

The last two slots were taken by two awards contenders playing in far fewer theaters than the rest of the list. Fox Searchlight’s “Birdman” grossed $505,000 in 862 theaters (only five added), down under 30% from last Friday. Focus’ The Theory of Everythingfor its third Friday took in about $400,000 in 140 theaters. That’s a decent showing, with the best recent comparison being “Birdman,” which expanded to substantially more theaters (231) its third week and grossed about 25% more, giving “Theory” about a 30% better PSA.

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