How good is a $100 million+ opening? What do you call a movie that achieves this feat? Five movies have opened north of $100 million in North America in 2015 so far, the latest entrant being The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2. Last year only two movies had managed such an opening. So it is indeed spectacular to manage such a performance in the first weekend. And yet the $101 million earned by The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2 in North America in its first weekend is not being widely acclaimed as ‘terrific’, the reason for which can be seen in this graph below that gives the domestic openings for the four movies of the franchise.
The opening for the finale of The Hunger Games series is the weakest, which had already seen a low with the previous movie. This is in complete contrast to the final movie of the Harry Potter series which had opened with a stunning $169 million figure back in 2011. The declining interest in The Hunger Games series, at least in North America, had been evident from the relatively weaker performance of Mockingjay – Part 1 last year. Then Mockingjay – Part 2 released in one of the franchise-heavy years of Hollywood where fans already have devoured massive franchises like Avengers and Fast & Furious, and only two weeks back had walked into the cinema halls to watch Spectre. So the studio Lionsgate would consider this opening for The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2 to be sort of a letdown. But when it looks back at the franchise it has created, there can be no shortage of words to describe the enormous success that the series has enjoyed and the stardom it has brought to Jennifer Lawrence. The franchise has already garnered more than $2.5 billion – which would eventually reach close to $3 billion – on a production budget of less than $500 million. The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2 has been made on a budget of about $125 million or so, and has already earned $247 million worldwide. So overall, this has been money well invested!
There were two more wide releases over the weekend, that ended up very far away from the Katniss Everdeen film. The Night Before, directed by Jonathan Levine who brought back the stars of his well-received movie 50/50 – Seth Rogen and Joseph Gordon-Levitt, opened with $10.1 million. That’s not a great opening for a $25 million budget film, and maybe the kind of foreign earnings it can collect could decide whether it gives a positive return on investment or not. The Secret in their Eyes, the remake of a famous 2009 Argentinean crime thriller, fared worse with an opening of $6.6 million as against its production budget of about $20 million. The Hollywood remake had a cast boasting of Chiwetel Ejiofor, Nicole Kidman and Julia Roberts, but the 42% score on Rottentomatoes would suggest that it ain’t no classic as the original.
With the release of the finale movie of The Hunger Games series, the decline in the weekend earnings of Spectre was sharper at 56.7% in North America. Domestically the movie may have slackened and could struggle to reach $200 million it seems, but globally it has become a huge phenomenon. Spectre has collected $678 million so far worldwide, with the counting far from over. The Peanuts Movie is close to crossing $100 million domestically but it is yet to expand in a serious manner overseas (though it has already been released in China), in the absence of which the studios will not be able to recover their investment. Among last week’s releases, both Love the Coopers and The 33 could not keep up much with the traffic, declining by 53% and 61% respectively. There is a lot more yet to come in the following weeks as the countdown for the year end is about to begin. So stay tuned!
1. The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2 ($101.0 million)
2. Spectre ($14.6 million; third weekend)
3. The Peanuts Movie ($12.8 million; third weekend)
4. The Night Before ($10.1 million)
5. The Secret in their Eyes ($6.6 million)