By Rich Matthews
Hopes that the 2014 winter movie season would make up for the summer slump took a bit of a hit this Thanksgiving weekend, with receipts down an overall 20 percent on 2013. This is partly because the two big new releases – Dreamworks spin-off family animation Penguins of Madagascar and Warner Bros' Horrible Bosses 2, a rare R-rated holiday weekend release – failed to live up to both expectation and box office tracking.
Penguins did manage to come second with $25.8m for the weekend and a five-day total of $36m, which well below the predicted $40-$45m. Meanwhile, the Jason Bateman, Charlie Day, Jason Sudeikis, Jennifer Aniston and Chris Pine comedy sequel could only squeak to fifth place with $15.7m for the weekend ($23m five-day), which is significantly down on the first outings $28m opening. Warner Bros will be crossing its fingers that the lack of big openers next weekend will see its target audience of young males come out of the woodwork.
This left the field open for Lionsgate's maudlin The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 to maintain its hold with $56.9m for the weekend, $82.7m over the holiday and $225.7m overall. However, that places it some $70m behind last winter's Catching Fire at the same point. Worldwide, the Jennifer Lawrence YA adaptation has amassed $480m.
The season's other strong performers, Disney's Big Hero 6 and Christopher Nolan's Interstellar, fill in the gap at two and four, respectively, with $18.8m ($167.2m domestic, $224.1m) and $15.8m ($147.1m and $542.3m). Rounding out the chart, from six to 10, Jim Carrey/Jeff Daniels sequel Dumb And Dumber To ($8.3m, $72.2m, $92.7m), Eddie Reymayne in Oscar-baiting form as Stephen Hawking in The Theory Of Everything ($5.1m, $9.6m), Ben Affleck chasing errant spouse Rosamund Pike in David Fincher's Gone Girl ($2.5m, $160.8m, $334.2m), Michael Keaton as a loopy former superhero star in Birdman ($1.9m, $17.2m) and Bill Murray being irascible in St Vincent ($1.8m, $39.3m). Also making a splash in only four screens, Benedict Cumberbatch as Enigma-busting mathematician Alan Turing in The Imitation Game managed to decode $482,000.
With no major releases next weekend, we have to wait until Ridley Scott goes all biblical with Christian Bale as Moses flick Exodus: Gods and Kings and Chris Rock launches critically lauded comedy Top Five, swiftly followed by the final chapter in The Hobbit, The Battle Of The Five Armies.