Weekend Box Office (November 27 - 29, 2015)
THIS WEEKEND For the third and final year in a row, Katniss Everdeen was in control of the Thanksgiving holiday box office as the Panem adventure The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2 stayed at number one in its second frame with an estimated $51.6M over the Friday-to-Sunday period. The drop of 50% was the best sophomore weekend slide that the four-film franchise has ever seen and was slightly better than the 53% dips seen by the last two installments which were also over this same holiday session. The five-day Thanksgiving span saw a strong $75.8M in sales pushing the cume up to $198.3M including $15.1M from 371 IMAX screens.
Though the hold was impressive, Part 2 is still running 12% behind last year's Part 1 which had banked $225.7M at the same point. Look for the final Katniss flick to break $200M on Monday and finish its North American run with about $300M. That would be the lowest total in the franchise, but still it is extremely rare for a movie franchise to boast $100M+ openings and $300M+ finals for each of four installments.
International weekend grosses brought in an estimated $62M with all major markets playing now. Cume rose to $242.4M putting the worldwide tally at $440.7M and the entire Hunger Games franchise at $2.7 billion since 2012.
Lionsgate has owned the turkey session over the past five years with its Twilight and Hunger Games sequels which all opened huge on the weekend before Thanksgiving and then held the top spot again over the holiday frame. But the Harry Potter franchise hopes to reclaim its territory next year with the release of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them on November 18 which will try to stay on top for at least two weekends.
The Pixar brand is not bulletproof after all. The computer animation leader saw its latest entry The Good Dinosaur open in second place with some of the worst numbers in company history launching to an estimated $39.2M over the Friday-to-Sunday span and $55.6M over the long five-day holiday frame. The last 13 Pixar films all generated bigger opening weekends across the last 16 years. The only ones to debut smaller were the company's first two films in the 1990s - Toy Story and A Bug's Life - and both of those sold more tickets than Dinosaur did.
Reviews were not as glowing as for recent original Pixar films, but they were still very strong. The CinemaScore grade was a solid A so those who did come out and buy tickets enjoyed the product they got. In a first, Pixar released two films in the same year as The Good Dinosaur followed June's Inside Out which bowed to a much more muscular $90.4M over a standard three-day weekend. Dinosaur's look and feel were more kid-oriented too so some of the non-family crowd - which Pixar films do great with - skipped this time around contributing to the deficit. The last seven consecutive films from the toon giant all opened north of $60M.
Disney still has plenty of time ahead. With good word-of-mouth, Dinosaur should continue to play as it faces no competition over the next two weeks. Historically, Thanksgiving kidpics with positive buzz can finish with three times their 5-day openings or more. Of its 15 movies over two decades, Pixar's lowest grossing film ever is 1998's A Bug's Life with $162.8M. Reaching that mark is not guaranteed right now for The Good Dinosaur.
Overseas openings were also softer for The Good Dinosaur. Compared to the debuts for Inside Out, Mexico was down 59%, the U.K. fell 61%, France was down 39%, Argentina was off 33%, and Russia was down 73%. Many key markets will open after Christmas.
Now in its fifth decade, the Rocky franchise offered a new installment with the spinoff film Creed which delivered a terrific opening grossing an estimated $30.1M over the Friday-to-Sunday span and $42.6M over five days. With Michael B. Jordan playing the son of Apollo Creed and Sylvester Stallone back as the Italian Stallion, this PG-13 entry catered to long-time Rocky fans plus wider audiences too.
At the core of the success is a very strong product. Both reviews and word-of-mouth from moviegoers are off the charts and that bodes well for the weeks ahead. Creed averaged a stellar $8,848 from 3,404 locations with older males powering the sales. Studio data showed that men made up 66% of the crowd and 62% were over 25. Thanksgiving weekend 30 years ago was ruled by the record opening of Rocky IV which featured the death of Apollo Creed (spoiler alert!) Now, that character's son is hoping to reach the highest gross ever in franchise history.
Another decades-old franchise having good luck in November is James Bond and its latest installment, SPECTRE, claimed fourth place with $12.8M over the Friday-to-Sunday span. The 15% dip was almost identical to Skyfall's 14% slide when it was a holdover on Thanksgiving weekend in 2012. The new 007 has banked $176.1M domestically making it the second biggest Bond ever, but is also running 28% behind the pace of Skyfall. Powered by sensational numbers in China and the U.K., SPECTRE has climbed to more than $750M worldwide which is also second best for the long-running franchise.
With a new toon in the marketplace, The Peanuts Movie slipped 27% to an estimated $9.7M in its fourth round. Fox's cume to date is $116.8M. Sony's raunchy comedy The Night Before followed with an estimated $8.2M dropping only 17% in its sophomore session. total is $24.1M.
Julia Roberts and Nicole Kidman saw their crime drama The Secret In Their Eyes fall 32% to an estimated $4.5M in its second weekend. It was the second biggest drop in the top ten behind Mockingjay and STX has collected just $14M.
Awards hopefuls filled up the rest of the top ten. The critically acclaimed Spotlight expanded and boosted its theater count by 50% going from 598 to 897 locations and grossed an estimated $4.5M for a good $5,011 average. Fox Searchlight's period piece Brooklyn widened from 111 to 845 locations and climbed up to ninth place with an estimated $3.8M and $4,535 average. Totals are $12.3M and $7.3M, respectively.
Spending an incredible ninth straight weekend in the top ten, The Martian dipped only 13% to an estimated $3.3M pushing the cume up to $218.6M for Fox. It's the second biggest hit ever for Matt Damon and still has a shot at surpassing The Bourne Ultimatum thanks to great legs.
The horror adventure Victor Frankenstein was utterly rejected by audiences over Thanksgiving. The PG-13 pic starring James McAvoy and Daniel Radcliffe grossed an estimated $2.4M over the three-day span and just $3.4M across the five-day holiday weekend. That gave Fox a puny $840 average over three days from 2,797 locations. Reviews were negative and there was never any consumer demand for this one. The five-day holiday gross did not even reach half of the $8.6M opening weekend for last year's I, Frankenstein which bowed over a standard three-day period. Darker fare has always struggled over cheery holidays like Thanksgiving and Christmas and it was no different this year.
Oscar winner Eddie Redmayne saw a good start for his attempt at winning back-to-back Best Actor trophies as The Danish Girl bowed to an estimated $185,000 from four theaters for a strong $46,250 average. Reviews have been good, but not stellar for the Focus release. The R-rated drama will now face the same challenge as so many other art films from recent months - selling to audiences outside of the safety zones of New York and Los Angeles. The Danish Girl expands on December 11 and will continue to widen throughout the Christmas season.
The top ten films grossed an estimated $167.7M which was up 11% from last year's Thanksgiving when The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 stayed at number one with $57M; but down 12% from 2013 when Catching Fire remained in the top spot with $74.2M.
Compared to Friday-to-Sunday projections, The Good Dinosaur came in below my $50M forecast while Creed debuted a little higher than my $26M prediction. Victor Frankenstein bowed well below my $8M projection.
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Be sure to check back on Monday for final figures and again on Thursday for a complete summary, including projections, for next weekend when Krampus opens.
This column is updated three times each week: Thursday (upcoming weekend's summary), Sunday (post-weekend analysis with estimates), and Monday night (actuals). Opinions expressed in this column are those solely of the author.
Last Updated: November 29, 2015 at 3:55PM ET
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