Box Office: ‘Mockingjay’ rules the weekend as ‘Imitation Game’ impresses

Following the somewhat lower than expected opening of “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Pt. 1” last weekend there was some thought that one of Thanksgiving's new releases could overtake the global franchise to win the holiday frame.  While “Mockingjay” certainly won't hit “Catching Fire's” historic heights, it safely kept the no. 1 movie in America crown. 

The third “Hunger Games” installment pulled in $56 million over the three day and $82.6 million over the five-day frame for a new total take of $225.6 million. That five-day Thanksgiving tally is actually the third highest ever behind “Catching Fire” and “Frozen.” With no serious competition opening this coming week, “Mockingjay” should hold onto the box office crown at least until the weekend of Dec. 12 when “Exodus: Gods and Kings” hits theaters.

Landing at no. 2 was DreamWorks Animation's “Penguins of Madagascar.”  The “Madagascar” spin-off earned $25.8 million over the weekend and $36 million since its Wednesday debut. That is less than the $40-45 million pre-release polling indicated and it appears as thought it will be the fourth DWA film in a row that will underperform domestically.  Is it the movies or is it DWA's new relatively new distributor 20th Century Fox?  Needless to say, DWA CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg might be regretting his decision, made a little over two years ago, to leave Paramount Pictures for their crosstown rival.

One definite impact on “Penguin's” grosses was the continued strength of Walt Disney Animation's “Big Hero 6.”  The potential new franchise earned another $18.7 million over the three-day for a new cume of $167.2 million.  At this point it should easily surpass “Wreck-it-Ralph's” $189 million U.S. tally sometime before Christmas.

Benefiting from its hold on a majority of IMAX screens, “Interstellar” came in at no. 4 with another $15.8 million over the weekend or $147 million so far.  The Christopher Nolan Sci-FI epic has been playing much stronger overseas with $330 million internationally.

Significantly disappointing was Warner Bros. “Horrible Bosses 2” at no. 5.  The star-studded sequel earned just $15.7 million over the weekend and $23 million since opening Wednesday.  That's dramatically less than the $30-35 million scenario that was projected after its first two days.  Clearly, audiences were not clamoring for a sequel to the original 2011 hit.  The original opened in the summer, however, and WB may have underestimated how the sequel would play in such a competitive holiday frame.

A notable Oscar contender opened in just four theaters in New York and Los Angeles Friday and ended up with the second highest per screen of the year and sixth highest all time.  “The Imitation Game” found a spectacular $120,050 per screen for a first weekend total of $480,000.  It was higher than “Birdman's” $106,000 in October, but still dramatically behind “Grand Budapest Hotel's” $202,000 per screen in March (the current record holder). “Imitation Game” will slowly expand over the coming weeks, but when it actually goes nationwide remains to be seen.

At the moment there are no wide releases set for Friday, Dec. 5.  Traditionally, the studios don't open major films on that date as its usually the busiest holiday shopping weekend of the year.  One slight exception, Fox Searchlight will open the Reese Witherspoon drama “Wild” in just New York and Los Angeles.

Final box office actuals are released on Monday.