Box office preview: 'Penguins of Madagascar,' 'Horrible Bosses 2' open | EW.com

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Box office preview: 'Mockingjay' to top 'Penguins of Madagascar' and 'Horrible Bosses 2'

Peeta

(Murray Close)

Two new films hit theaters this weekend—Penguins of Madagascar and Horrible Bosses 2—but they aren’t likely to knock The Hunger Games out of the top spot. Not even cute birds and funny sequels can beat the power of the massive franchise—or the power of Jennifer Lawrence.

Although The Hunger Games: Mockingjay—Part 1 didn’t do as well as previous Hunger Games films’ opening weekends, it did open stronger than any other film this year with a weekend total of $121.9 million. And that alone sets it up for a strong second weekend, even up against two wide releases.

Penguins is also a franchise film, the fourth in the Madagascar series, and, unlike Mockingjay, a completely family-friendly movie. Horrible Bosses 2 does not have the family friendliness going for it, but it is a comedy—a genre that doesn’t currently have too many offerings at the theater.

Because of these openings—and the continued success of Interstellar and Big Hero 6—Gone Girl is likely to finally find itself outside the top five for the first time since its Oct. 3 release. It’ll join films like Dumb and Dumber To and Beyond the Lights whose time on top was much more limited.

The Imitation Game also hits theaters this weekend, but only four, and The Theory of Everything will expand into 749 theaters—many more than last weekend’s 140, but still not enough to add up to top five-worthy numbers. Here’s our predictions for who will make those numbers:

1. The Hunger Games: Mockingjay—Part 1 - $54 million
Most people who really wanted to see Mockingjay probably already saw Mockingjay, so the film is likely to follow its series predecessors and drop more than 50 percent in its second weekend. For context, the first Hunger Games dropped 61.6 percent between its opening and second weekend and Catching Fire dropped 53 percent.

2. Penguins of Madagascar - $40 million
It’s Thanksgiving, which means lots of kids will be home on break this weekend—and lots of parents will be wanting to get their kids out of the house. Taking them to see Penguins of Madagascar is the perfect getaway: It’s funny, it’s kid-friendly, and it’s lighthearted—and it’s not Big Hero 6, a Disney movie many have already seen. The Dreamworks film opens Wednesday, so it will benefit from pre-Thanksgiving and Thanksgiving day audiences, but it’s also looking to have a strong weekend judging by previous films in the Madagascar franchise—the last one, Europe’s Most Wanted, made $60.3 million its June 2012 opening weekend.

3. Horrible Bosses 2 - $27 million
Horrible Bosses 2 will benefit from its star power: Jennifer Aniston, Jamie Foxx, Chris Pine, Christoph Waltz, and Kevin Spacey all have major roles. It will also benefit from being a comedy—other than Dumb and Dumber To, comedy fans don’t have very many options in theaters right now and Horrible Bosses 2 is a more lighthearted alternative to darker films like Interstellar and Mockingjay without being too G-rated like the animated offerings. This sequel (which, like Penguins opens Wednesday) will likely follow in the original’s footsteps and make somewhere around $25 million in its opening weekend.

4. Big Hero 6$14 million
Audiences love Big Hero 6, but Penguins—something fresh and animated—is stiff competition and will send Hero dropping to a lower spot in the top five. But its status as a Disney movie will continue to help it out, especially among families who haven’t been to the movies in a while and are deciding between Hero and Penguins.

5. Interstellar$11 million
Interstellar’s days as a top five movie are probably nearing their end—but people who haven’t ventured out to see the space-set film will have plenty of time over the long Thanksgiving weekend to dedicate three hours to the Christopher Nolan project.