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Mockingjay makes warm debut


Mockingjay makes warm debut

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NEW YORK (AP) – Mockingjay, Part 1 didn’t catch fire like the previous instalments of The Hunger Games, but it still had the biggest opening of the year with $123 million at the weekend box office, according to studio estimates yesterday.

Lionsgate’s Mockingjay opened well below the $158 million debut of last year’s Hunger Games: Catching Fire and the $153 million opening of the 2012 original. But even with a $30-million-plus slide in the franchise, Mockingjay far surpassed the previous top weekend of the year: the $100 million debut of Transformers: Age of Extinction.

The result made for some unusual ironies. The biggest opening of the year (and by a wide margin) was seen by some as a disappointment. After initial box office receipts of Mockingjay rolled in Friday suggested a weekend take below expectations, Lions Gate Entertainment’s stock dipped five per cent.

But the decision to split the final book in Suzanne Collins’ dystopian trilogy into two films was clearly lucrative for Lionsgate. Mockingjay did even better overseas, where it made $152 million over the weekend, accounting altogether for a $275 million global opening.

“It’s the biggest opening of the year, so it really illustrates the strength of the franchise,” said David Spitz, head of distribution for Lionsgate, noting the North American opening was the 15th best ever.

Spitz declined to answer questions about Wall Street’s reaction to the opening, or what the effect may have been of splitting the third book in two.

Last week’s top film, the long-in-coming sequel Dumb and Dumber To, slid considerably. The Universal comedy dropped to fourth place with $13.8 million.

Estimated ticket sales for Friday through Sunday at U.S. and Canadian theatres, according to Rentrak. Where available, the latest international numbers are also included.

1. The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part 1, $123 million ($152 million international).

2. Big Hero 6, $20.1 million ($7 million international).

3. Interstellar, $15.1 million ($70 million international).

4. Dumb and Dumber To, $13.8 million ($6.5 million international).

5. Gone Girl, $2.8 million ($2.4 million international).

6. Beyond the Lights, $2.6 million.

7. St Vincent, $2.4 million.

8. Fury, $1.9 million ($12.4 million international).

9. Birdman, $1.9 million.

10. The Theory of Everything, $1.5 million.