By Rich Matthews
While it still effortlessly beat the year's highest opening weekend gross – Transformers: Age Of Extinction's $100m – Lionsgate's The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 fell more than $30m short of previous franchise entry Catching Fire.
With $123m, the first half of cleaved-in-twain final novel Mockingjay, even fell nearly £30m behind the first film in the Hunger Games series. Admittedly, Interstellar still had a grip on all the IMAX screens that Catching Fire ran on, but that would only account for some $4-5m.
It's more likely that this is a backlash about splitting final entries and is similar to the drop suffered by last year's The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug in the US. We'll have to wait a year to find out if Mockingjay Part 2 can mirror Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows Part 2 by becoming the biggest (and last) chapter in its franchise. Of course, we only to wait a few weeks to see how The Hobbit: The Battle Of Five Armies fares.
Internationally, Mockingjay's movement was stronger, to the tune of $152m (pacing some five per cent ahead of Catching Fire), which takes its worldwide opening to $275m, just behind Catching Fire's overall global opening.
Last week's leader, Jim Carrey/Jeff Daniels sequel Dumb and Dumber To tumbled a hefty 62 per cent to gross $13.8m and land at fourth place. Its domestic total now stands at $57.5m and $70.8m globally. Disney's kids superhero adventure Big Hero 6 and Christopher Nolan's space epic Interstellar rose above the Dumb sequel, with Baymax and co still pipping Matthew McConaughey to the post, taking $20.1m to raise its domestic tally to a healthy $135.7m and its worldwide gross to $185.2m, with lots of key territories still waiting in the New Year wings. Currently, it's pacing just over $1m ahead of Frozen in the US at the same point.
Interstellar, meanwhile, took in $15.1m to raise it's total to $129.7m, but, more impressively, its Earth-wide gross to an impressive $449.7m, so it has a long way to go to match Inception's $825.5m, but is on course to zoom in on Gravity's $716.4m. At the other end of the chart, Stephen Hawking biopic The Theory Of Everything, starring an awards-buzzing Eddie Redmayne, debuted at 10 at only 140 theatre count, grossing $1.5m for a total of $2.8m.
The remainder of the chart, from five to nine, was David Fincher's Gone Girl with $2.8m ($156.8m domestic, $327.7m worldwide), Relativity's Beyond The Lights with $2.6m ($10.1m), Bill Murray being curmudgeonly in St Vincent with $2.4m ($37m), Brad Pitt riding his tank in Fury with $1.9m ($79.1m, $138.5m), and Michael Keaton in the critically acclaimed Birdman with $1.86m ($15m).
Next weekend, Jason Bateman, Jason Sudeikis and Charlie Day are back in Horrible Bosses 2 and family animation spin-off Penguins of Madagascar entry the holidays fray, followed swiftly the ubiquitous Benedict Cumberbatch in Oscar-bait The Imitation Game.