It may have not been the windfall Lionsgate was hoping for, but Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 pulled in $123 million over the weekend. This is the largest opening of the year by a wide margin over Transformers: Dawn of the Planet of the Robot Dinosaurs or whatever the title is. The first films in the franchise each opened over $150 million which is why this tally is considered somewhat of a letdown. This can be easily explained however by seven key factors:
a) Critics and fans are more mixed regarding this film vs it’s predecessors. The first Hunger Games has a 67/100 critic score and a 7.0/10 user score on Metacritic, while Catching Fire holds a 75/100 critic score and a 7.9/10 user score. Mockingjay, on the other hand, has a 62/100 critic score and a 6.2/10 user score.
b) Mockingjay is considered by the majority of fans of the book series to be the weakest link in the trilogy.
c) Too much Hunger Games too quickly. Three films in three years is a lot.
d) No IMAX screenings as Interstellar is still being shown in all such theaters.
e) The Part 1 in the title may have scared some people off who are hoping for a complete film experience.
f) While marketing was decent for this film, with a lot of key actors on the talk show circuit and plenty of tv spots running, it was not as prevalent as it was for the first two films.
g) There are no hunger games in the film titled HUNGER GAMES: Mockingjay Part I. This could keep away some casual fans. This fact is not hidden as it was even mentioned explicitly in some of the advertising.
As far as I’m concerned, opening to over $100million, (let alone 120,) while not the incredible mark it once was, is still quite impressive. If I’m Lionsgate I’m happy with this result and wouldn’t lower my guesstimates for part 2’s opening weekend next year.
I would however consider rethinking the decision to split “Divergent” threequel “Allegiant” into two films. Compared to the loathing of that book among a great deal of Divergent fans, Hunger Games fans uniformly consider Mockingjay to be the greatest book of all time. I understand the monetary motivations to split these final films in popular series into two films, but with that one they may bite off more than they can chew.
I will be posting my 7 second review on twitter later in the week along with a lengthier review in a blog post over Thanksgiving weekend.
In the meantime, are you surprised by Mockingjay “failing” to make it over $130million? Did you see the film? If so what did you think? Please let me know in the comments.