Box Office: 'Mockingjay' Rules Quiet Weekend With $21.6 Million

The Hunger Games Mockingjay Part 1 Still 7 - H 2014
Courtesy of Lionsgate

The Hunger Games Mockingjay Part 1 Still 7 - H 2014

Reese Witherspoon's 'Wild' hits its stride at the specialty box office

With no new wide releases in the U.S. this weekend, Lionsgate's The Hunger Games: Mockingjay — Part 1 topped the box office for the third time in a row with $21.6 million, bringing its domestic total to $257.7 million for a global cume of $560.5 million.

Mockingjay is on the brink of passing up Captain America: The Winter Solider ($259.7 million) to become the No. 2 title of the year in North America to date after Guardians of the Galaxy ($332 million), even as it continues to trail behind last year's The Hunger Games: Catching Fire. Overseas, it collected another $31.6 million from 87 markets to cross the $300 million mark, finishing Sunday with $302.8 million in foreign ticket sales.

Also impressing overseas was Ridley Scott's Exodus: Gods and Kings, which Fox debuted in 10 markets ahead of the movie's Dec. 12 launch in the U.S. The biblical epic drew big numbers in Catholic-friendly markets, including $4.7 million in Mexico, $3.8 million in Spain and a massive $6.2 million in South Korea, the biggest opening ever for Scott.

In the U.S., the weekend after Thanksgiving is historically slow as Hollywood studios recover from the holiday and prepare for the Christmas crush. This year was worse than usual, with revenue down more than 17 percent from last year, although comparisons were always going to be tough because of the combined strength of Frozen and Catching Fire, which grossed $31.6 million and $26.2 million for the weekend, respectively.

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DreamWorks Animation's Penguins of Madagascar stayed at No. 2 in its second outing with $11.1 million for a domestic total of $49.6 million, less than DWA would like. The animated family film fell 56 percent. Internationally, Penguins marched to a happy $23.5 million from 50 markets for an international total of $94.5 million and world cume of $144.1 million.

Horrible Bosses 2 placed No. 3, falling 44 percent to $8.6 million for a domestic cume of $36.1 million, well behind the first Horrible Bosses. Overseas, the R-rated comedy, from New Line and Warner Bros., earned $7.1 million from 49 markets for an international total of $23.1 million and early worldwide total of $59.2 million.

Disney's Big Hero 6, posing tough competition for Penguins, and Paramount's Interstellar rounded out the top five. Big Hero 6 grossed $8.1 million in its fifth weekend for a domestic total of $177.5 million in another victory for Disney Animation Studios. Overseas, where it has rolled out in its first 27 territories, the family film earned another $4 million for an early foreign total of $62.8 million and worldwide haul of $240.3 million. Big Hero 6 is already the biggest Disney Animation or Pixar title of all time in Malaysia, the Philippines, Indonesia and Vietnam.

Interstellar grossed $8 million domestically for a new total of $158.7 million.

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Coming in No. 9 was found-footage horror pic The Pyramid. Fox opted for a limited release, versus nationwide, and opened the movie in 589 theaters. The Pyramid grossed $1.4 million, and was up 19 percent from Friday to Saturday, unusual for a horror title. Directed by Gregory Levasseur, the Fox title stars Ashley Hinshaw, Denis O'Hare, James Buckley and Daniel Amerman as a group of archeologists who discover a vast pyramid buried under the Egyptian desert. The Pyramid opened to $3.7 million internationally from 16 markets.

And Jake Gyllenhaal's indie crime thriller Nightcrawler crossed the $30 million mark domestically after earning $1.1 million over the weekend for Open Road Films.

Elsewhere, there was plenty of action at the specialty box office as awards season heats up. 

Jean-Marc Vallee's Wild, starring Reese Witherspoon, quickly hit its stride, grossing $630,000 from 21 theaters for a location average of $30,000 and five-day debut of $677,238 (it opened Wednesday). The Fox Searchlight drama is based on Cheryl Strayed's memoir of hiking more than 1,100 miles of the Pacific Crest Trail, and many expect Witherspoon to earn an Oscar nomination for best actress.

Fellow awards contender The Imitation Game continued to impress in its second weekend. The Weinstein Co. entry, starring Benedict Cumberbatch as famed Enigma code-breaker Alan Turing, grossed roughly $402,000 from eight theaters in New York and Los Angeles for a location average of $50,196 — the best of the weekend — and cume of $1 million.

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Sony Pictures Classics' Foxcatcher, now in its fourth weekend, grossed $574,727 as it expanded into a total of 75 theaters for a location average of $7,663 and domestic total of $2.8 million. Directed by Bennett Miller, the wrestling drama stars Steve Carell, Channing Tatum and Mark Ruffalo.

Tommy Lee Jones' Western drama The Homesman, from Roadside Attractions and Saban Films, took in a sturdy $501,450 as it upped its location count to 154 theaters in its fourth weekend for a domestic total of $1.1 million. The Western drama did especially well in the West, Southwest and South.

Stephen Hawking biopic The Theory of Everything and Birdman, both of which are playing nationwide, stayed in the top 10. Theory of Everything came in No. 7 with $2.7 million from 826 theaters for a U.S. cume of $13.6 million.

Birdman, placing No. 10, grossed $1.2 million for a U.S. cume of $18.9 million.

Here are the estimated top 10 films for the weekend of Dec. 5-7 at the domestic box office:

Title, Weeks in Release/Theater Count, Studio, Weekend Total, Percentage Change, Cume

1. The Hunger Games: Mockingjay — Part 1, 3/4,054, Lionsgate, $21.6 million, -62%, $257.7 million

2. Penguins of Madagascar, 2/3,775, Fox/DWA, $11.1 million, -56%, $49.6 million

3. Horrible Bosses 2, 2/3,400, Warners/New Line, $8.6 million, -44%, $36.1 million

4. Big Hero 6, 5/3,168, Disney, $8.1 million, -57%, $177.5 million

5. Interstellar, 5/3,028, Paramount/Warner Bros., $8 million, -49%, $158.7 million

6. Dumb and Dumber To, 4/3,086, Universal/Red Granite, $4.2 million, -50%, $78.1 million

7. The Theory of Everything, 5/826, Focus Features, $2.7 million, -47%, $13.6 million

8. Gone Girl, 10/1,205, Fox/New Regency, $1.5 million, -39%, $162.9 million

9. The Pyramid, 1/589, Fox, $1.4 million

10. Birdman, 8/738, Fox Searchlight/New Regency, $1.2 million, -39%, $18.9 million