Box Office Report: The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1 Wins Quiet December Weekend

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For the third weekend in a row, Katniss Everdeen and company remained the most popular moviegoing option in North America by a wide margin. The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1 continued its box office reign with a $21.6 million first place finish. It was the easy victor on a very quiet post-Thanksgiving weekend that saw only 12 movies make more than $1 million over the three days. In recent years, the major six studios have not released titles in this early December frame, caught between the Thanksgiving and pre-Christmas hoopla.

While Mockingjay – Part 1 did take the top spot, it also dropped a hefty 62% from an inflated holiday weekend, which included a massive Black Friday gross for most films. That is a slightly better hold than both Catching Fire and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 1, which dropped 65% from Turkey weekend. In both cases, those films dropped to second place and let a Disney hit (Frozen in 2013, Tangled in 2010) surge to the top spot. After 17 days, Mockingjay – Part 1 has grossed $257.7 million. If it continues following Catching Fire‘s route through the New Year, it should finish with around $320 million, which is good enough for second place among 2014 titles but a good $100 million off its predecessor’s gross.

The post-Thanksgiving weekend is usually bad news for family films, and this weekend proved to be no exception. DreamWorks’ Penguins of Madagascar took second place with an estimated $11.1 million, a drop of 56% from last week. Meanwhile, Disney’s Big Hero 6 added another $8.1 million to its coffers in fourth place, dipping a steep 57%. While those drops would be awful for a family film on any other weekend, they were expected here, since family business typically spikes over the Thanksgiving holiday. It is rare to see a film aimed at children drop less than 50% over these two weeks. (Even the box office behemoth that was Frozen dropped 53% on this weekend last year.)

However, Penguins of Madagascar‘s start is still quite disappointing. With just $49.6 million since opening the day before Thanksgiving, that 12-day gross is just slightly above the opening weekend of the first Madagascar – a film that came out nearly 10 years ago and did not have 3D surcharges. It is likely that Penguins will finish in the $80 to $85 million range, meaning it will join Turbo ($83 million finish) as one of DreamWorks’ costliest box office disappointments.

Big Hero 6, on the other hand, has had a spectacular performance throughout November, and should continue to benefit from its excellent word-of-mouth. With a $177.5 million take so far, the action-adventure continues to perform about 10% ahead of Wreck-it Ralph. A total of around $210 million seems like a good target for Baymax and company.