Box Office

Mockingjay soars to a weekend win! (or crashes and burns, depends who you ask)

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.


Top 7 lists

The Top 7 Scenes from the Hunger Games Franchise Before Mockingjay.

Welcome to another trusty top 7 list from Jay at 7 second reviews. Why 7 you ask? Well 10 is too long, and 5 is too short. Plus, it’s a theme! 7 second reviews. Top 7 lists. Get it?
In honor of the release of the next film in the Hunger Games franchise, Mockingjay Part I, I’d like to present:

The top 7 scenes from the Hunger Games franchise to this point.

Beware, there are spoilers ahead for the first two installments in the Hunger Games Franchise. Spoilers as far as the eye I can see. There are however, no spoilers for Mockingjay, the book or film.

7. Peeta “dies” and Finnick revives him.

This is one of several scenes that showcase Sam Claflin’s pitch perfect novel-to-screen portrayal of Finnick, and one of dozens of scenes that display how excellently cast Jennifer Lawrence is as Katniss. Additionally, this is a key scene for the overall trilogy as this is the moment that Snow and Finnick both realize (whether Katniss truly does or not,) that her feelings for Peeta is not all an act. She does care for, and in some way, love Peeta. This realization, by Snow especially, becomes paramount as we enter the next installment in the series.

6. Katniss volunteers at the Reaping.

This is perhaps the most well-known scene of the series. Prior to the reaping, it’s made abundantly clear that the chances of Prim being chosen are slim. Sometimes though, slim is enough. Plus, two of the most prominent qualities of Katniss Everdeen are established here; she is brave, and she loves her sister.

5. Katniss destroys the arena with one well-timed, well-aimed shot.

The end of Hunger Games: Catching Fire played out exactly as it did in the book. As the viewer, you are just as dazed and confused as Katniss. Who is my ally? Who is my enemy? This scene raises the mystery quotient while pushing the special effects budget through the roof. (See what I did there?) Katniss being lifted out of the arena in a mockingjay pose with the swelling musical score is done so very well.

4. Katniss lays Rue to rest & District 11 revolts.

Katniss’s “burial” of Rue is incredibly beautiful, especially when combined with the stunning score provided by James Newton Howard. Gary Ross’s decision to show Katniss’s screams of anger and sadness without sound is also a smart touch. The second part of this scene I did not appreciate on first viewing. For those who have read the book, you know that this part does not exist. However, the way the book is written, from Katniss’s first person point of view, this scene couldn’t have appeared. In the context of the film series, though, it works. Katniss’s treatment of the dead body of this young girl is not how the “Games” normally play out. This, along with the three finger “rebel salute” is the first true sign of revolution from Katniss, although that is a second thought to paying respect to a girl, as young and innocent as her sister, who became her ally and friend. It needed to be shown that Katniss’s tiny bit of rebellion is noticed by Rue’s district. This, combined with the anger and grief of what I’d assume is Rue’s father, leads to the unrest in the district boiling over as the scene closes.

3. This girl is on fi-errrrrrr (Sorry, couldn’t resist).

Cinna is lauded for the gorgeous dress he designed for Katniss. Unfortunately, this bit of rebellion would lead to the unfortunate beginning of the next scene on this list. Katniss “becoming the mockingjay” is only part of what makes this scene great. It is what comes after, where the tributes, all former victors, show solidarity by raising their arms together. It is absurd that they have to enter the arena once more, and everyone knows it.

2. The 75th annual Hunger Games begin.

This scene’s claim to fame is that in theaters, as Katniss’s tube rises into the arena, the screen expanded to full IMAX. Does it still work on a smaller screen? Most definitely. This is perhaps the most exciting, heart-pounding action sequence in the first two films. Katniss has reached a breaking point when one of her most staunch supporters, and friends, is beaten near-death in front of her as she is about to be launched into the hell of another games . She must take all her built-up fear, anger, and sadness, and channel it into focus and power in the arena. This is perfectly conveyed by Jennifer Lawrence here.

1. Katniss gives a speech to District 11 on the “victory” tour.

I consider this to be the most powerful scene in the first two films. From Jennifer Lawrence’s delivery of a beautiful “off-the-cuff” speech that is lifted almost directly from Suzanne Collins’s novel, to the reprise of “Rue’s Farewell” score from the first film, to Francis Lawrence’s wonderful direction, this scene is truly great. The conclusion, where an old man dies for standing up for his beliefs is as depressing and captivating as any you’ll see in a modern blockbuster.

I hope you enjoyed the list, and if you haven’t seen these films, I recommend checking them out. If you have a different favorites list, please let me know in the comments.
Enjoy Mockingjay Part I and thanks for reading!