Box Office: 'Mockingjay' Poised to Become No. 2 Title of 2014 in U.S.

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

The Hunger Games Mockingjay Part 1 Still 1 - H 2014

At the awards box office, Reese Witherspoon's 'Wild' is off to decent start, while 'Imitation Game' continues to soar

With no new wide releases this weekend, Lionsgate's The Hunger Games: Mockingjay — Part 1 is easily winning the North American box-office race, where it's on the brink of eclipsing Captain America: The Winter Soldier to become the No. 2 title of the year to date behind Guardians of the Galaxy ($332 million).

Mockingjay grossed $6.6 million Friday for a projected weekend of roughly $22 million and domestic total of $242.7 million. By either Sunday or early next week, it will eclipse the $259.7 million earned by Winter Soldier, while this weekend it's passing up The LEGO Movie ($257.8 million) and Transformers: Age of Extinction ($245.4 million).

However, the third installment in the YA film franchise continues to trail last year's The Hunger Games: Catching Fire by more than 20 percent. Part of the reason is an overall downturn in moviegoing in the U.S.

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The weekend after Thanksgiving is historically slow as Hollywood studios recover from the holiday and prepare for the Christmas crush. This year is no exception.

DreamWorks Animation's Penguins of Madagascar is expected to stay at No. 2 in in its second outing with north of $10 million for the weekend, putting its North American total just south of $50 million, a disappointing showing.

Penguins came in No. 3 Friday behind Horrible Bosses 2 ($2.7 million), but will overtake the R-rated comedy sometime on Saturday. From New Line, Horrible Bosses 2, which is likewise trailing the first Horrible Bosses by a hefty margin, is expected to earn north of $9 million in its second weekend for a domestic total just shy of $37 million.

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Disney's Big Hero 6 and Paramount's Interstellar, rounding out the top five, continue to hold nicely, and by Sunday, will have earned $177 million-plus and $158 million, respectively, in North America.

Found-footage horror pic The Pyramid, opening in 500 theaters this weekend, isn't proving a big draw. The Fox film took in $458,000 on Friday and may only clear $1 million by Sunday. Directed by Gregory Levasseur, the movie 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.

There is, however, action at the specialty box office, where Jean-Marc Vallee's Wild, starring Reese Witherspoon, is opening this weekend. The awards contender, from Fox Searchlight, is off to a good start, grossing $165,000 Friday from 21 theaters in seven markets.

Wild, based on Cheryl Strayed's memoir of hiking more than 1,100 miles of the Pacific Crest Trail, is expected to post a weekend location average as high as $28,000.

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Fellow awards contender The Imitation Game continues to post spectacular numbers in its second weekend. The Weinstein Co. entry, starring Benedict Cumberbatch as famed Enigma code-breaker Alan Turing, is projecting a weekend theater average of more than $49,000 from eight theaters in New York and Los Angeles.

Oscar hopefuls Foxcatcher and The Theory of Everything also continue to make gains. The latter, along with Birdman rank in the top 10, although they are playing nationwide, compared to select runs for Foxcatcher and other contenders.