Box Office Report: 'Hunger Games' Beats 'Penguins' and 'Horrible Bosses 2'; 'Big Hero 6' Still Shining

Box Office Report: 'Hunger Games' Beats 'Penguins' and 'Horrible Bosses 2'; 'Big Hero 6' Still Shining

Nov 30, 2014

Here are your estimated five-day box office returns (new releases bolded):

1. The Hunger Games: Mockingjay -- Part 1 - $82.6 million ($123.0 million total)

2. The Penguins of Madagascar - $36.0 million ($36.0 million total)

3. Big Hero 6 - $26.0 million ($167.2 million total)

4. Horrible Bosses 2 - $23.0 million ($23.0 million total)

5. Interstellar - $22.0 million ($147.0 million total)

6. Dumb & Dumber To - $11.6 million ($72.2 million total)

7. The Theory of Everything - $6.4 million ($9.6 million total)

8. Gone Girl - $3.2 million ($160.7 million total)

9. Birdman - $2.4 million ($17.2 million total)

10. St. Vincent - $2.3 million ($39.3 million total)

The Big Stories

The five-day Thanksgiving weekend used to be a thing. Now it's just another thing, at least for new openers. For the last five years, the week before has turned into the BIG weekend. Who is going to argue with The Hunger Games, Harry Potter and three Twilight films? New releases did not stand a chance, even in those franchises' second weeks. Not since Vince Vaughn and Reese Witherspoon (Four Christmases) held off the very first Twilight in week two over the Thanksgiving holiday has a new release grabbed top attention from moviegoers. Well, make that six years in a row as Mockingjay has shuttered some of the panic last week -- when it had the biggest opening of 2014.

 

More Horrible? Bosses or Penguins?

That's an easy answer for the critics who gave the R-rated sequel a 36% at Rotten Tomatoes, just a tad higher than A Million Ways to Die in the West's 34%. Audiences, on the other hand, preferred Horrible Bosses 2 to Dumb and Dumber To, notching it two grades higher to join The Internship, Delivery Man and Grudge Match in the Cinemascore ranks of "B+" comedies. Both critics and audiences preferred seeing The Penguins of Madagascar this week with a 68% and "A-" rating, respectively. But their combined attendance was not enough of a match for The Hunger Games nor even their fellow Thanksgiving openers. Consider the following list if you will:

Frozen ($93.5 million), Toy Story 2 ($80.1), Tangled ($68.7), Enchanted ($49.0), Four Christmases ($46.0), Unbreakable ($46.0), A Bug's Life ($45.7), 101 Dalmatians ($45.0), Back to the Future Part II ($43.0), The Muppets ($41.5)

Those are the best Thanksgiving openers of all time. Four of them are not even from this century and one is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year. Consider the ticket prices and the inflation on some of those:

Toy Story 2 ($114.1), Frozen ($95.3 million), Back to the Future Part II ($82.3), Tangled ($74.8), 101 Dalmatians ($68.2), A Bug's Life ($66.6), Unbreakable ($63.4), Enchanted ($56.1), Four Christmases ($50.7), The Muppets ($43.8)

Those are rough estimates, but who looks like the Thanksgiving champ now, Frozen? Back to actual numbers though, we have to move past the top 10 to get to Dreamworks' Penguins.

Toy Story ($39.0), The Penguins of Madagascar ($36.0), Flubber ($35.8), The Haunted Mansion ($34.0), Rise of the Guardians ($32.3), Rocky IV ($31.7), End of Days ($31.5), Christmas with the Kranks ($30.8), Life of Pi ($30.57), Spy Game ($30.56)

Forget for a moment that Toy Story inflated comes to over $60 million and Rocky IV to over $70, that is a rather weak opening for a spin-off containing what many concede have been the best part of the Madagascar films. It only took three days in May of 2005 for the first films to gross $47.2 million. The Escape 2 Africa did $63.1 million to kick off November of '08 and number three (the most successful to date) started with $60.3 and grossed over $216 million in the U.S. and over $746 million worldwide.

Horrible Bosses 2, meanwhile, we would have to go all the way down to 30th place to see where it ranked. So shall we make them feel a little better about that opening by seeing how Thanksgiving audiences show up for R-rated films?

Horrible Bosses 2 ($22.0), Spy Game ($21.6), End of Days ($20.5), The Bodyguard ($16.6), Alien Resurrection ($16.4), Alexander ($13.6), Ninja Assassin ($13.3), Hitman ($13.1), Bad Santa ($12.2), The Missing ($10.8)

When the original only took three days to make $28 million, no inflation looks good for Horrible Bosses 2. Neither will the $60-65 million it could be headed for total if the Cinemascore averages for multipliers hold. Only The Bodyguard on that list made more than $70 million.

 

There's Always Room for Hunger Games

Remember all the questions about The Hunger Games last week? You will hear them asked a little less this week. Last year's Catching Fire went from an opening of $158 million to a Thanksgiving five-day of $109.9 million. This year's Mockingjay went from a $121 million to a second week five-day of $82.6 million, roughly a 31.8% decline compared to Catching Fire's 30.5% drop. So roughly on par with each other after what many deemed a disappointing opening -- despite it, again, being the highest of 2014. The second film had $296.2 million after 10 days while Mockingjay stands at $225 million. Next weekend will be the most telling.

Anything above $26.1 million will show that some people were just waiting to see it -- or fans just gave in and could not wait out some perceived boycott until the DVD comes out. Even with nothing opening next week except Fox's almost nonexistent The Pyramid, Mockingjay's third week at number one will not get the film much closer to matching the $400+ million of its predecessors. (It does stand at over $480 million worldwide.) But grossing more than $26.1 million will put Mockingjay on a slightly better trajectory than Catching Fire's final 123 days at the box office. Anything less and the $324 million it is currently on pace for will not be enough to dethrone Guardians of the Galaxy as the highest grossing film of 2014. And that, indeed, would be some kind of disappointment.

 

Tales of the Top 10

Big Hero 6 and Interstellar continue to be the films people want to see this season. Disney and Marvel's family film is now certain to surpass Wreck-It Ralph's gross in the U.S. By next week it will zoom past How to Train Your Dragon 2 and soon enough will be just the 11th film of 2014 to break $200 million stateside. Interstellar is hoping to become the 12th. It will pass Gone Girl's now $160 million by next weekend, but may need an extra push to reach that milestone. Only 20 films have ever opened in November and grossed $200 million. Soon to be 22. Consider that both Wreck-It Ralph and Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa had $149.2 and $159 million at this point and neither reached $200. They both opened the same weekend as Christopher Nolan's film, which currently stands at $147 million. Thor: The Dark World had $186.7 million through Thanksgiving and just barely made it to $206 million after a start of over $85.

Meanwhile, Dumb & Dumber To remains unlikely to reach $100 million but can take solace in besting Horrible Bosses 2. The Theory of Everything officially became a wide release this weekend and jumped up to seventh place, hoping to soon surpass Birdman's current tally of $17.2 million. Michael Keaton's march to Oscar went wide in its fifth week and had already grossed $9.1 million by the time it reached 800 screens. Eddie Redmayne's stands at $9.6 million in its third week. Time to update the following chart though:

The Grand Budapest Hotel ($811,166), The Imitation Game ($482,000), Birdman ($424,397), Boyhood ($387,618), The Theory of Everything ($208,763), Fading Gigolo ($180,801), Begin Again ($134.064), Under the Skin ($133,154), Citizenfour ($126,321), Love Is Strange ($117,276), St. Vincent ($109,878)

That is because the Weinstein's best bet for a date with Oscar this year just outshined nearly all the others opening on five screens or less this year. It's Keaton vs. Redmayne vs. Cumberbatch for Best Actor this year. Versus Steve Carell, whose Foxcatcher is up to $822,000, and David Oyelowo, whose Selma opens limited on Christmas Day. Stay tuned for that above list to be updated that weekend.


Erik Childress can be seen each Thursday morning on WCIU-TV's First Business breaking down the box office on the Movies & Money segment.

[box office figures via Box Office Mojo]

 

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