November 27, 2014

WEDNESDAY BOX OFFICE: “Mockingbird” Slays “Penguins,” “Bosses”


On the day before Thanksgiving, the start of a 5-day rush on moviegoing, THE HUNGER GAMES: MOCKINGJAY PART I (Lionsgate) behaved as it has since it opened:  on top, but considerably behind its franchise predecessors.  Mockingjay earned $14.6M on Wednesday, more than double its nearest competition.  Nevertheless, that was 30% behind the day-before-Thanksgiving $20.8M for last year’s Catching Fire (the original Hunger Games, which opened in March, had a different trajectory).  If Mockingjay performs in the same proportion as Catching Fire over the rest of the holiday, it should take in $77M for the 5-day weekend ($52M over Fri-Sun), which would put it at $220M in the US by Sunday. Mockingjay can’t catch up with its fellow franchise installments, so its battle will be with Guardians of the Galaxy to see which will be 2014’s box office leader.  At the moment, it appears as though Mockingjay may not quite catch Guardians‘ $331M, but that face-off will be close.

THE PENGUINS OF MADAGASCAR (DreamWorks Animation/20th) had an OK $6.1M opening day.  It will benefit from families seeking entertainment over the long weekend, and might reach $40M by Sunday ($28M over the 3-day weekend), which would make it the #11 Thanksgiving opening, behind the 5-day $41.5M start for The Muppets, as well as of course blockbusters like Frozen ($93.6M) and Tangled ($68.7M).  DreamWorks has mostly stayed out of the Thanksgiving rush, which has tended to belong to Disney, although Penguins will easily outgross DreamWorks’ previous Thanksgiving effort Rise of the Guardians and its $32.3M 5-day opening.  Rise of the Guardians, though, was a notorious flop, so that’s not saying much for a studio that badly needed to make a box office statement this season. Penguins has 2 more weekends without serious competition ahead, before an avalanche of family holiday movies hits beginning Dec 19.

Despite the arrival of Penguins, BIG HERO 6 (Disney) surged on Wednesday to $4.1M, and even in its 4th weekend in the market, it should do a very sturdy $28M for the 5-day holiday ($20M of it from Fri-Sun), putting it at $169M and thanks to the so-so-showing of Penguins, a chance to reach $200M

HORRIBLE BOSSES 2 (New Line/Warners) opened with $4.2M, on its way to $33M by Sunday ($23M over the 3-day weekend), in line with expectations.  3-day to 3-day, that’s less than the $28.3M start for the first Horrible Bosses, and although that movie had excellent legs (its final US total of $117.5M was more than 4x its opening), that’s unlikely this time around.  However, Bosses 2 has a moderate budget, and should turn a fair profit.

Also hitting semi-wide release was THE THEORY OF EVERYTHING (Focus/Universal), which expanded to 749 theatres with around $600K.  It should have a $6M 5-day holiday ($5M of it from Fri-Sun), with a 3-day weekend per-theatre average around $6500.  That compares well to last year’s $4200 average for Philomena, which widened to 835 theatres over Thanksgiving weekend, and ended up with a robust $37.7M in the US.  With Theory almost certain to reap major prizes as awards season kicks in next week, it could go considerably higher.

FOXCATCHER (Sony Classics) also expanded for the holiday, although still in limited release.  Foxcatcher almost tripled its run to 71 theatres, and had a $145K Wednesday, which should give it $1.3M by Sunday ($1M from the 3-day weekend).  That would mean a $14K per-theatre average, not that much below last weekend’s $20K average, but still an unexceptional number. 

Other wide-release holdovers:  INTERSTELLAR (Paramount/Warners) took in $3.2M on Wednesday and should be close to $150M in the US by Sunday, after a $25M 5-day holiday ($17.5M 3-day).  DUMB AND DUMBER TO (Red Granite/Universal), despite the arrival of Horrible Bosses 2, earned $1.8M on Wednesday and should hit $74M by Sunday, after $10M/$13M for the 3-day/5-day weekend.  BIRDMAN (Fox Searchlight) flew to $250K on Wednesday after shedding about 20% of its theatres to 705, and should have a $1.8M/$2.3M holiday, which over Fri-Sun would give it a $2500 per-theatre average.

Ticket sales are set to decline today, as Americans gather for things other than moviegoing, but then the box office should leap up on Friday, traditionally a huge day at the multiplex.


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."