Box office preview: Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2, The Night Before, Secret In Their Eyes |


Box office preview: Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2 aims for $120 million

(Murray Close)

Katniss Everdeen is about to make her final box office bow, capping off a film franchise whose first three installments brought in a whopping $2.3 billion worldwide.

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2 is expected to debut around $120 million, on par with Part 1, which opened this time last year to $121.9 million. It went on to gross $337.1 million domestically and $755.4 million worldwide. While the latest Mockingjay isn’t expected to reach the box office heights of the first Hunger Games and Catching Fire, it should beat out this year’s Minions debut to become the fourth-biggest opening of 2015.

The odds are definitely in Mockingjay’s favor, and it will handily take home the box office crown this weekend, but Mockingjay isn’t the only new release hitting theaters. The Christmas-themed comedy The Night Before and the crime thriller Secret in Their Eyes are also opening, as are Carol and Legend in limited release.

Here’s how this weekend might play out at the box office:

1. The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2 — $120 million

After huge debuts for the first two installments in the Hunger Games franchise, last year’s Mockingjay – Part 1 took a bit of a box office dip. Catching Fire and The Hunger Games clock in as the eighth and ninth biggest domestic debuts of all time, with $158.1 million and $152.5 million apiece, making Catching Fire the biggest opening ever for a movie with a female lead. Mockingjay 1, on the other hand, only (only?) brought in $121.9 million in its debut. That’s about what Part 2 is expected to make this weekend, although it could see a slight boost from fans turning out for the franchise’s final chapter. Even if the latest Mockingjay won’t, um, catch fire, a debut above $116 million will make it the fourth-biggest opening of the year.

Mockingjay – Part 2 has a budget of $160 million, and critical reviews have been generally better than last year’s installment, but not as overwhelmingly positive as the first two films. It currently holds a 72 percent on Rotten Tomatoes. After helming Catching Fire and Mockingjay – Part 1, Francis Lawrence returns to direct the final installment in Suzanne Collins’ YA saga, which stars Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, and Liam Hemsworth.

In addition to its big domestic haul, Mockingjay should also pull in some huge global numbers, as it’s opening in 4,175 North American theaters and more than 33,000 theaters in in 87 international territories. Those territories include an unusual same-day release in China.

2. Spectre — $16.8 million

After opening to $70.4 million two weeks ago, Spectre spent its second weekend at the top of the charts with $33.7 million. To date, it’s grossed more than $137 million domestically for a global total of more than $550 million. But after reigning for two weeks without much opposition, Spectre’s facing a steep fall of about 50 percent, as the Girl on Fire will prove tough competition for Bond.

3. The Peanuts Movie — $13.2 million

While the big-screen story of Charles M. Schulz’s beloved characters hasn’t pulled in 007-level numbers, it’s had a solid run since debuting two weeks ago opposite Spectre. The Peanuts Movie has benefitted from being one of the only family-friendly films in theaters right now, and its domestic total is now at $85.3 million. This weekend, it’s expected to drop about 45 percent for a third weekend of $13.2 million.

4. The Night Before — $13 million

Directed by Jonathan Levine, the R-rated comedy about three lifelong friends reuniting for a wild Christmas Eve stars Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Seth Rogen, and Anthony Mackie. Reviews have been decent but mixed, with a 67 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes, but The Night Before is expected to land somewhere in the low to mid-teens.

5. Secret In Their Eyes — $8 million

Billy Ray’s dark crime drama follows a team of investigators looking into the murder of one of their own daughters. Even with a star-studded cast, headlined by Julia Roberts, Nicole Kidman, and Chiwetel Ejiofor, critical reception has been poor, with a 31 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes. It’s the second big release for distributor STX Entertainment, who had a surprise hit earlier this year with The Gift, which opened to $11.9 million and went on to gross $43.8 million domestically. Secret In Their Eyes is expected to debut around $8 million.

At the specialty box office, two high-profile films are getting limited releases. The 1950s lesbian drama Carol, starring Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara, is debuting in four theaters, as is the gangster drama Legend, starring Tom Hardy as the notorious London gangsters Reggie and Ronnie Kray. Since opening in the United Kingdom in September, Legend has earned more than $27.9 million.