The latest installment of the “The Hunger Games” set another box office record, with “Mockingjay, Part 1” drawing the year’s biggest opening weekend with an estimated $123 million in ticket sales.
The estimates by research firm Rentrak show that the third film adaptation of “The Hunger Games” books didn’t do as well as the first two films, but show the continued strength of the young adult genre that has drawn females amid a glut of children’s and superhero films.
Lionsgate’s “Mockingjay” had the biggest box office open since last year’s success of “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire,” which took in $158 million in its opening weekend. The first “Hunger Games” movie brought in $152.5 million in its opening weekend. The success of the “Hunger Games” films has been in large part due to a faithful audience of tweens and teens who are often fans of the books. The high-budget film has been heavily marketed and stars Jennifer Lawrence, who is broadly popular. “Mockingjay” is expected to draw wider audiences and do well in overseas markets. “Catching Fire” brought in a total of $864 million in global ticket sales in 2013.
“While the first movie skewed toward young women, the second movie broadened its appeal to men and older demographics as well as international,” said Patrick Corcoran, a spokesman for the National Association of Theater Owners.
The three “Hunger Games” movies are the first of any franchise to open to more with than $120 million. And they are the most successful young adult book adaptions. The fourth film, “Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part 2” is scheduled for release in late 2015.
It’s the third weekend in a row of strong openings after a dismal summer of box office sales. Disney’s “Big Hero 6” raked in another $20 million in its second weekend, bringing its total so far to $135 million. Paramount’s “Interstellar” by Christopher Nolan ranked third in its third weekend with $15.1 million, bringing its total to $120.7 million.
Paul Dergarabedian, senior analyst with Rentrak, said movie theaters should expect continued success through the Thanksgiving week with “a solid box office bounty” as Warner Bros. debuts its R-rated comedy sequel “Horrible Bosses 2” and DreamWorks releases “Penguins of Madagascar.”