Katniss Everdeen will take her final bow this weekend as The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2, the final film in the Suzanne Collins literary franchise, opens in more than 4,000 theaters in North America with another 86 offshore markets for a global opening of $285M-$305M. That’s bound to be a higher worldwide weekend than Mockingjay – Part 1’s worldwide $276.2M a year ago. Broken out, that’s $120M estimated stateside with another $165M-$185M coming from foreign cash registers.
Abroad, the games begin on Wednesday with a total suite that includes the UK, Germany, Russia, Korea, Mexico, Brazil and, importantly, China in a rare day-and-date release. France is also in that mix, but we are in a holding pattern with regard to its potential as we wait to see how the market rebounds following Friday’s terror attacks in Paris. For fans in the U.S. and Canada, the doors will open at 7 PM Thursday. Last time, Katniss didn’t get any assistance from Imax, but this time around she will along with PLF ticket prices.
Still, this is the “single largest global launch,” Lionsgate executives said on a recent earnings call. The first three Hunger Games movies collectively made $2.3B worldwide.
The previous installment, Mockingjay – Part 1 opened to $154.3M last year in the same frame in 85 markets (sans China, which opened last February) with $121.9M coming from domestic. Mockingjay – Part 1 tallied a total $418M offshore, which was a 5% dip from Catching Fire. Nevertheless, Part 2 is expected to reverse that. Final domestic cume was $337.1M with total worldwide tally of $755.4M, ranking second behind Catching Fire ($865.2M worldwide) and ahead of the first Hunger Games ($694.4M).
The series has typically not over-indexed in Asia, with Korea and Japan both losing ground on Mockingjay – Part 1. The final grosses there were $5.8M and $1.6M, respectively. We’d expect higher numbers this time around, even if it doesn’t exactly catch fire. China’s another matter. The last movie showed a big improvement over its predecessor, and this one has seen talent in Beijing for a premiere on November 12. Jennifer Lawrence, who is beloved in the market, was there with Josh Hutcherson and Liam Hemsworth. Bringing talent to China is a key part of marketing initiatives and generally provides a bump. The major competitor in the market there is expected to be Spectre in its second frame.
The talent has also traveled to London, Berlin, Madrid and Paris just ahead of the terrorist attacks on Friday. To that point, movie theaters in Paris were closed this past Saturday and re-opened Sunday amid a three-day national mourning period. The sense right now that we get on the ground is that people are going back to the movies for the escapism it provides. A result, however, of the closure this past weekend could be that Spectre, which set an all-time opening record when it released last Wednesday, gets a sizable part of the door this week.
Partnership-wise, Mockingjay 2 has Samsung, Fiat Chrysler Automotive, Coca-Cola and Kellogg’s. The digital campaign included extensive and exclusive partnerships with Snapchat, Twitter, Facebook, Google, as well as a VR experience for fans presented by Samsung. The initiatives were pushed out globally with partners around the world.
Elsewhere in the domestic market
For distributors, this season is a prime time featuring movies for all types of demos– a moviegoing-begets-moviegoing time frame that lasts all the way through the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday despite some downs post-Thanksgiving through Christmas Eve. Sony/MGM/Eon’s Spectre in its third frame is looking at a 50% decline for a FSS that’s at $16.8M. Sony also has a Seth Rogen/Anthony Mackie/Joseph Gordon-Levitt holiday comedy, The Night Before in 2,700 locations, which industry estimates put at $12.5M.
STX also is releasing IM Global’s financed Secret in Their Eyes, a remake of the 2009 foreign-language Oscar winner from Argentina, in an estimated 2,400 venues. It stars Julia Roberts, Nicole Kidman and Chiwetel Ejiofor as investigators who learn that one of their own teenage daughters has been brutally murdered. The film, which carried an estimated budget of $19.5M, is eyeing a bow of $7M-$9M.
Two major awards contenders enter the fray on the specialty market in four locations split between New York and Los Angeles. Weinstein Co.’s Carol, based on the lesbian love story The Price of Salt by Patricia Highsmith, looks to make $50K a theater at the Paris and the Angelika in NYC and the Hollywood Arclight and Landmark on Pico on LA. The film got a 15-minute standing ovation at its Cannes premiere in May, with star Rooney Mara landing Best Actress with director Todd Haynes receiving the Queer Palm award.
Universal’s Legend about bloody British gangsters the Kray twins is looking to nab $35K per theater according to industry estimates. The film was warmly received at its Toronto International Film Festival premiere and currently counts well over $33M at the box office, with a bulk of that made in its UK homeland. Legend, directed by Oscar-winner Brian Helgeland, cost an estimated $25M before P&A.