It’s hard to measure a movie’s worth in dollars, but when those dollars approximate $333.2 million, it’s something worth considering. For the second year in the row, a Hunger Games movie has reached the summit of the box office charts, edging out over Guardians to become the top-grossing film in the US. It’s the first time a franchise has ever led the box office charts for two years consecutively, and one of the few times (in about half a century) that our leading movie featured a female lead.
Earlier today, Variety reported that Mockingjay had eclipsed out Guardians ($333.1 million) and Captain America: Winter Soldier ($257.9) for the coveted box office gold medal. All of this accomplished without IMAX theaters and with a protagonist named ‘Peeta.’ Still, Mockingjay’s returns don’t even come close to 2013’s Catching Fire, which topped out at $424.6 million. Mockingjay Part 2 is set to be released in November of this year.
Before Catching Fire, reports Buzzfeed, the last time a movie featuring a female-lead earned this title was 1971’s The Exorcist, starring Ellen Burstyn. Mockingjay also features – surprise, surprise! – a female producer, Nina Jacobson. With women making up 52% of all movie audiences, you might think Hollywood would put the puzzle pieces together and – get this – develop more women protagonists. Only 15% percent of films include female leads, so it’s hard to go anywhere else but up.
Still, none of this is to defend one of 2014’s most aggressively mediocre movies. Mockingjay is a dreary, smart, anti-war story, locked up in the acne-pocked body of a blockbuster. There was no reason for the third book to have been split up into two movies, besides that whole “$332 million thing.” Whatever.
Other YA features this year didn’t do nearly as well, with Divergent coming in at $150 million, and The Maze Runner shuffling by at $102 million. The Fault in Our Stars, though, came in at $124.8 with a budget of just $16 million. It’s easy for some writers to wave arms and proclaim the death of YA, but I’d like to believe that our dystopias will be replaced by far more profitable, lovable, rom-com cancer flicks.
And a big note of congratulations to Jennifer Lawrence, who holds the coveted title of Hollywood’s highest-grossing actor who made Hollywood’s highest-grossing movie while dating Hollywood’s totally grossest turd.