“The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2” landed on top of the box office over Thanksgiving weekend, while Pixar's "The Good Dinosaur" and the latest film in the “Rocky” movie series, “Creed,” also performed well.
“Mockingjay,” which opened on Nov. 20, domestically grossed more than $51 million this past weekend. The movie is the fourth and final installment of the dystopian young adult film series.
The new animated Pixar film “The Good Dinosaur” came in second, grossing more than $39 million domestically, while “Creed,” which stars “Fantastic Four” actor Michael B. Jordan as boxer Apollo Creed’s son, also did very well, coming in third place with a domestic gross of more than $30 million.
The movie “Victor Frankenstein” with James McAvoy and Daniel Radcliffe couldn’t scare up a crowd over the weekend, with the film opening with over $2 million, below even October’s science fiction release “The Martian.”
The triumph of “Mockingjay” shows that a "Hunger Games" film can still be a strong performer on a holiday weekend, and that there is still at least some appetite for the film series and for that genre in general. The movies are based on a popular book series, and the previews promised plenty of action.
Meanwhile, the success of “Creed” shows an appetite for more “Rocky” films, and for nostalgia in general. Audiences want to see new films in old movie series if they have an interesting premise, as evidenced by the major box office performance of “Jurassic World” this past summer.
“Dinosaur” came out on an ideal weekend, when moviegoers were no doubt looking for a film that could appeal to all ages. Perhaps “Dinosaur” could have done better if it had had the stellar reviews of, for example, this year’s Pixar production “Inside Out,” which performed extremely well this summer.
However, the performance of “Dinosaur” shows that audiences will still turn out for a Pixar movie. Moviegoers have no doubt learned that most Pixar films will have a creative story that will satisfy all ages. "Dinosaur" may be remembered as one of the studio's lesser films, but reviews weren't terrible – just less positive than other films by the computer animation film studio.
As the end of the year approaches, there are still some possible blockbusters to come, including the film that will almost certainly beat everything this year and possibly become one of the highest-grossing movies of all time: “Star Wars: The Force Awakens.”
But the end-of-the-year rankings as they stand now show what we’ve already seen with “Creed”: movies that are rooted in nostalgia but are given enough of a new spin will appeal to many. “Jurassic World” is currently the highest-grossing film of the year.
Marvel continues to triumph as well – audiences still want more of the company’s superheroes and haven’t tired of seeing them team up, as evidenced by Marvel’s “Avengers: Age of Ultron” coming in second. "Ant-Man" isn't too far down, ranking at number 11.
The appeal of Pixar continues with “Inside Out” placing third for the year at this time, and the positive box office performance of “Minions,” which places fifth, shows that audiences will turn out for familiar animated characters, no doubt especially when the previous movies in the series got good reviews (critics for the most part enjoyed “Despicable Me” and, to a slightly lesser extent, “Despicable Me 2,” the predecessors to “Minions”).
“Mockingjay – Part 2” is already the eighth-highest-grossing film of the year, though that is far below, for example, “Mockingjay – Part 1” becoming the second-highest-grossing movie of 2014 and “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire” coming in at number one in 2013. The gross of “Mockingjay – Part 2” is far below those of the other films so far.
It will be interesting to see how dystopian young adult film series perform in the future, as the successors of the “Hunger Games” like the “Divergent” and “Maze Runner” movies have often performed well but not achieved the numbers of “Hunger.” These film series may need their book source material to become a true phenomenon to establish the base needed for these major box office returns.
“Mockingjay – Part 2” could of course pass movies currently above it in the rankings. But it’s interesting to see that stories that are inspiring and have cheerful endings like “The Martian” and “Inside Out” placed above the gloomy “Mockingjay.” Perhaps audiences tired of Katniss’s morally gray world.
While "Martian" is based on a bestselling book and had a star-studded cast as well as a director very familiar to science fiction fans, it is worth emphasizing just how well the movie did, placing above such high-profile offerings as Marvel's "Ant-Man," the James Bond movie "Spectre" (so far), and especially the badly-received "Terminator" film "Terminator Genisys" (which could be seen as an example of nostalgia done without a satisfying story).
"Martian" is a crowd-pleasing sci-fi film stuffed with interesting visuals that's along the lines of the 1995 film "Apollo 13" and the more recent movies "Gravity" and "Interstellar." The great performance of "Martian" shows there is still interest in these space-set movies.