New ‘Hunger Games’ flick sees series-low opening

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New ‘Hunger Games’ flick sees series-low opening

“Mockingjay ? Part 2,’’ the final “Hunger Games’’ film, soared to a $101 million opening in its first weekend in theaters, according to Rentrak estimates Sunday.

For most films, the figure would be a coup, but the latest chapter of “The Hunger Games’’ collected the lowest opening take among the four films in the series.

The series starring Jennifer Lawrence kicked off with a bang in March 2012 with a massive $152.5 million weekend - one of the highest openings of all time.

“Catching Fire,’’ the second film in the franchise, one-upped that with a $158.1 million debut in November 2013.

Lionsgate split the final book in Suzanne Collins’ trilogy into two films, following the precedent of “Twilight’’ and “Harry Potter.’’

“Mockingjay ? Part 1’’ opened on this weekend last year to $121.9 million, considered at the time to be a necessary and expected dip while fans awaited the final installment, which, if it had mimicked “Twilight’’ or “Harry Potter,’’ would have snared at least the second-highest (if not highest) opening in the series.

The franchise low for the final “Hunger Games’’ film, which cost a reported $160 million to make, was a bit of a surprise. Lionsgate, however, was not disappointed.

“It’s a great accomplishment. The overall franchise has grossed over $2 billion worldwide and counting,’’ said David Spitz, co-president of theatrical distribution for Lionsgate. “It’s a pretty phenomenal result.’’

Expectations run high when films become so popular and successful in such a short a time, said Paul Dergarabedian, a senior media analyst for Rentrak.

“If we live in a world where a $100 million opening is a disappointment, that’s pretty crazy,’’ he said

Only 34 movies in history have opened at over $100 million, including all four in “The Hunger Games’’ series.

Dergarabedian attributes the showing to a down marketplace. Just two weekends ago, “Spectre,’’ which fell to second place this week with $14.6 million, failed to live up to the domestic opening of “Skyfall,’’ the previous James Bond film.

“Thanksgiving represents a good opportunity for a really strong second weekend,’’ Dergarabedian said of “Mockingjay ? Part 2.’’

With the weekend box office down 11 percent from last year, it remains to be seen whether 2015 will indeed become a record-breaking $11 billion year as many predicted at the outset. Box office is up 4.2 percent from last year, but 2013 is the year to beat - and this year is tracking less than 1 percent ahead of that.
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