Belfast Telegraph

Mockingjay opens big at box office

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 taking 123 million dollars (£79 million) at the US weekend box office, according to studio estimates.

The Lionsgate film opened well below the 158 million dollar (£101 million) debut of last year's Hunger Games: Catching Fire and the 153 million dollar (£98 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 dollar (£64 million) debut of Transformers: Age Of Extinction.

The film, based on the final book in Suzanne Collins' dystopian trilogy and starring Jennifer Lawrence, did even better overseas, where it made 152 million dollars (£97 million) over the weekend, accounting altogether for a 275 million dollar (£175 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 what the effect may have been of splitting the third book in two.

"It speaks for itself," Spitz said of the result.

Dividing the book pushed much of the big drama of Mockingjay to the second film, scheduled for release in November 2015. On the same November weekend in 2010, Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows: Part 1 - which similarly split the series' last book into two - opened almost identically with 125 million dollars (£80 million). A year later, the second Deathly Hallows film debuted bigger than all previous Harry Potter films with 169 million dollars (£108 million).

"A little perspective is in order here," said Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst for box office tracker Rentrak. He called the Mockingjay results "still an astonishing feat".

In its third week of release, the Disney animated adventure Big Hero 6 moved into second place with 20.1 million dollars (£12.8 million). Christopher Nolan's space epic Interstellar came in third with 15.1 million dollars (£9.6 million), also in its third week.

Last week's top film, comedy sequel Dumb And Dumber To, dropped to fourth place with 13.8 million dollars (£8.8 million).

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