The irony of one of Hollywood’s most popular franchises, one named after being literally starving, staking out the Thanksgiving holiday two years in a row and winning the box office both times cannot be ignored, just like the juggernaut that is The Hunger Games itself. The third entry in the franchise, The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1, held on to its first place for the second week in a row, although the Jennifer Lawrence-starrer dropped over 53% from its initial take, only pulling in $56.8 million in domestic returns. The film has already crossed the $480 million mark in worldwide box office sales, so if you listen hard enough, you will likely hear the film passing into half a billion dollar territory, oh, right about now. (Or perhaps that's just the rumbling of its big, empty belly.)
The holiday weekend saw the opening of a very weird, very wide variety of fresh offerings, including the second-place winner, Penguins Of Madagascar. A spinoff of the popular Madagascar series, the animated feature focuses on the series’ popular penguin pals, giving them an origin story and a spy-heavy story (man, that old tale). The film made $25.8 million over the weekend, which is significantly less than the three previous Madagascar features, all of which opened above $45 million.
The weekend’s other big opener—another sequel!—also significantly underperformed. Horrible Bosses 2 did, well, not so great at the box office (horrible, perhaps?), only earning the number five spot and pulling in $15.7 million. The original film opened to $28.3 million and a number two rank when it opened back in October of 2011. How popular did Horrible Bosses ultimately prove to be? It tops Box Office Mojo’s list of black comedies (well, since 1982), thanks to a worldwide take in excess of $200 million. Its follow-up has some work cut out for itself, if only it didn’t hate bosses and work and dedication so much.
The Imitation Game fared far better in limited release, making $482,000 while playing at just four locations, giving it a stellar per-theater average of $120,500. That’s the second best of the year (it still trails The Grand Budapest Hotel), and the seventh best of all-time for a live-action film. Did you see The Imitation Game this weekend? Chances are, you were crammed into the theater to do so—perhaps you could have used math or code-breaking to more economically organize packed seating arrangements. (I don’t understand math). The film will continue to expand over the month, so we’ll just have to wait and see if it can continue to hold audiences' attentions in wider release.
Elsewhere, Gone Girl is still in the top ten, nine weeks after release. With $160.7 million in its pocket, the film is number 16 on the 365-day chart. It’s also the highest-earning live-action film of the past year that’s not part of an existing universe (including the MCU and the X-Men series) or an established franchise (The Hobbit, the new Planet Of The Apes) or that’s a reboot or remake (Godzilla, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles).
The Theory Of Everything added 662 new theaters, enough to push the Stephen Hawking biopic into the top ten with a solid $5 million domestic take. Foxcatcher also added theaters, but with just 48 new locations, the film is still in very limited release (just 72), though that was good enough to earn it over $1 million this weekend. Also in the limited realm: The well-regarded horror feature The Babadook opened in just three theaters, earning $27,000 along the way. Hopefully, strong word of mouth can push this genuinely great feature into higher numbers. (Also, don’t freak out, but the Babadook is right behind you.)