‘Hunger Games’ Basks in Third Week of Box-Office Glory

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“Mockingjay -- Part 1,” the latest installment in the “The Hunger Games” film series, faced little fresh competition and easily led the box office for a third straight weekend.

The young adult drama starring Jennifer Lawrence collected $21.6 million in weekend ticket sales in the U.S. and Canada for Lions Gate Entertainment Corp., researcher Rentrak Corp. said yesterday in an e-mailed statement. The 21st Century Fox Inc. horror film “The Pyramid” opened in limited release with sales of $1.35 million to place ninth.

“There are a lot of big films in the pipeline,” Paul Dergarabedian, an analyst at Rentrak, said in a telephone interview yesterday. “There was no wide-release newcomer that set the world on fire.”

The competition heats up as the clock ticks down on 2014. Next weekend, Fox opens “Exodus: God and Kings” in wide release, with a cast that features Christian Bale as Moses and Joel Edgerton as Ramses. “Annie,” and the latest installments in “The Hobbit” and “Night at the Museum” series follow about a week later.

Weekend sales for the top 10 films fell 19 percent to $68.3 million from a year earlier. Sales for the year to date have declined 4.6 percent to $9.55 billion.

“We’re running behind but we’ve got a lot of films coming out,” Dergarabedian said. “We’ve got a lot of films to still be released, so I’m hoping it can knock down that deficit into the 2 or 3 percent range. We’ve got a lot of ground to make up.”

Revolution’s Face

“Mockingjay -- Part 1” is the first film of a two-part finale that follows Katniss Everdeen, played by Lawrence, as she becomes the face of a revolution against the Capitol and President Snow.

The film has collected $257.7 million in domestic revenue since its debut on Nov. 21, according to Rentrak. The movie had been predicted to add another $21 million over the weekend, the estimate of BoxOffice.com.

“The Pyramid,” directed by Gregory Levasseur, was forecast by BoxOffice.com to collect $1.7 million.

The film features an archaeological team that journeys underground to unlock the secrets of a lost pyramid only to find themselves hunted.

The film, released in almost 600 theaters, didn’t fare well with critics, registering about 9 percent positive reviews at Rottentomatoes.com.

“The air inside the pyramid isn’t the only thing that’s stale in this ludicrous yet mildly likable horror film,” Michael O’Sullivan wrote in the Washington Post.

‘Wild’ Debut

The weekend also saw the debut of “Wild,” a potential Oscar contender from Fox Searchlight, in 21 theaters. Based on a true story, the film features Reese Witherspoon as a woman who undertakes a thousand-mile hike along the Pacific Coast Trail as she tries to recover from a tragedy.

The picture registered 92 percent positive reviews, according to Rottentomatoes.com. It generated about $630,000 in ticket sales.

Among returning films, “Penguins of Madagascar” garnered $11.1 million to place second this weekend. The picture, made by DreamWorks Animation SKG Inc. and distributed by Fox, had been projected by BoxOffice.com to collect $11 million.

“Horrible Bosses 2” generated $8.6 million to place third, while “Big Hero 6” produced $8.1 million in sales for fourth place.

The following table has U.S. movie box-office figures provided by studios to Rentrak. The amounts are based on gross ticket sales for Dec. 5 and Dec. 6, with estimates for yesterday.

                    Rev.    Pct.             Avg./   Total
Movie              (mln)    Chg.  Theaters  Theater  (mln)  Wks
 1 Hunger Games    $21.6    -62    4,054   $5,328   $257.7    3
 2 Penguins         11.1    -56    3,775    2,940     49.6    2
 3 Horrible Bosses   8.6    -44    3,400    2,529     36.1    2
 4 Big Hero 6        8.1    -57    3,168    2,566    177.5    5
 5 Interstellar      8.0    -49    3,028    2,642    158.7    5
 6 Dumb And Dumber   4.2    -50    3,086    1,351     78.1    4
 7 Theory Of Every   2.7    -47      826    3,230     13.6    5
 8 Gone Girl         1.5    -39    1,205    1,245    162.9   10
 9 Pyramid           1.4     --      589    2,292      1.4    1
10 Birdman           1.2    -39      738    1,558     18.9    8

Top 10 Films Grosses

This Week Year Ago Pct. (mln) (mln) Chg. =================================== $68.3 $83.9 -19

Year-to-date Revenue

2014 2013 YTD YTD Pct. (mln) (mln) Chg. =================================== $9,552 $10,013 -4.6 Source: Rentrak Corp.