‘Hunger Games’ on top for the third straight week

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‘Hunger Games’ on top for the third straight week

The “Hunger Games’’ finale spoiled an early Christmas for the holiday horror comedy “Krampus’’ to maintain its top spot at the North American box office for the third week running.

The Jennifer Lawrence-led film took in an estimated $18.6 million in the United States and Canada, bringing its domestic total to $227 million, according to Rentrak estimates on Sunday.

The anti-Santa Claus thriller from Universal, the only film to debut in the top 10 this week, brought in $16 million.

The normally slow weekend following Thanksgiving was up 26 percent from a year ago thanks to the fresh material from Universal, which slipped in between the release of two huge franchise movies: “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay ? Part 2’’ and “Star Wars: Episode VII ? The Force Awakens,’’ which is due out Dec. 18.

“Even though it’s horror at its base, you needed to have enough time for the film to open and lead up to Christmas,’’ said Nicholas Carpou, Universal Pictures’ president of domestic distribution. “Being the only wide commercial release on this date really did wonders for this film.’’

Modestly budgeted for under $15 million, “Krampus’’ is likely to add to the profits of what has been a record year for Universal following the release of movies like “Jurassic World,’’ “Furious 7’’ and “Minions.’’

Meanwhile, the final movie installment for bow-wielding Katniss pushed past $500 million worldwide, another hit for Lionsgate, which has staked its claim on the young adult market. It hopes to keep rolling with its franchise film strategy with “Allegiant,’’ the third film in the “Divergent’’ series due out in March.

“Creed,’’ the boxing film where Sylvester Stallone reprises his role as Rocky Balboa, came third, and the Disney/Pixar animated tale “The Good Dinosaur’’ came fourth. Each had around $15.5 million in ticket sales.

Overall ticket sales are running 4 percent ahead of last year and are on track to top $11 billion in the U.S. and Canada for the first time, said Rentrak’s senior media analyst Paul Dergarabedian.

Dergarabedian says it remains to be seen whether the global excitement around J.J. Abrams’ “Star Wars’’ will drown out a bevy of other options coming out later this year. That ranges from director Alejandro Inarritu’s “The Revenant’’ to the Amy Poehler and Tina Fey-led comedy, “Sisters.”

Among other films competing for attention in the coming weeks are: “Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Road Chip,’’ the Will Smith-led football movie “Concussion,’’ and “Joy,’’ an underdog tale that reunites stars Lawrence and Bradley Cooper with “American Hustle’’ director David O. Russell. AP

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