(Photo by Weinstein Company LLC/Courtesy Everett Collection)
If there ever was a life-or-death need to pick a Hollywood it-girl to define the 2010s, Jennifer Lawrence would surely be the one chosen to save our hides. She started the decade with the star-making Winter’s Bone, the rural mystery that marked only her third feature film appearance, nabbing a Best Actress Oscar nomination in the process. 2011 and 2012 came and it felt like Lawrence was everywhere, across blockbusters like X-Men: First Class and The Hunger Games, along with Silver Linings Playbook, for which she finally (“finally” meaning five years into a film acting career) won the Academy Award.
Sequels and franchising were the name of the game in the 2010s, so of course she stuck around as Mystique in every X-Men sequel, all the way to the bitter end with Dark Phoenix. Likewise, Hunger Games completed its dystopic story with Lawrence in the lead. In-between, she collaborated twice more Playbook director David O. Russell (Joy, American Hustle), worked with 2010s it-dude Chris Pratt (Passengers), and released against-type material like mother! and Red Sparrow.
In 2020, Lawrence signed up for Adam McKay’s Netflix comedy Don’t Look Up; she and Cate Blanchett will play astronomers who go on a media tour to convince people a meteor will destroy the Earth in six months. Until that comedy shows up in your streaming queue, we’re looking back on all Jennifer Lawrence movies ranked by Tomatometer!
(Photo by Marvel Studios / Disney, 20th Century Fox, Miramax, TriStar)
For their bravery, wit, general badassery, and unbroken spirit in the face of enormous challenges (be they gender discrimination or acid-hissing aliens), we pay tribute to 87 Fearless Movie Women Who Inspire Us.
How did we arrive at our top 87? With the help of a fearless panel of women critics made up of some of the best writers in the industry, including a few on the Rotten Tomatoes staff. Starting with a long list of candidates, they whittled down the list to an initial set of 72 amazingly heroic characters and ordered them, crowning the most fearless woman movie hero in the process. Want to know more about the ladies who voted? We included their bios at the end! Then, in addition to their contributions, which make up the bulk of the list, we also added a handful of more recent entries chosen by the RT staff.
The final list (you can watch every movie in a special FandangoNOW collection) gives compelling insight into which heroes have resonated through the years, women whose big-screen impact remains even as the times change. We have the usual suspects along with plenty of surprises (Working Girl, your day has come!), and the only way to discover them all is reading on for the 87 fearless women movie heroes — and groups of heroes — who inspire us!
(Photo by 20th Century Fox Film Corp.)
#1One of the appeals of science-fiction is the luxury to comment on modern issues and social mores, or even eschew them completely. Take a look at the diverse space crews in Star Trek, Sunshine, or Alien, where people are hired based on nothing but competence, and none have proven their competence under extreme pressure as well as Ellen Ripley. She’s tough, pragmatic, and cunning in Alien. Journey with Ripley into Aliens and we get to see her in a new light: mothering and nurturing with hints of deep empathy (Sigourney Weaver was nominated for a Best Actress Oscar for this performance), which only makes the Xenomorph-stomping side of her even more badass.
(Photo by 20th Century Fox Film Corp.)
#2And on the other side of the Sigourney spectrum, Weaver here plays Katharine, a particular kind of woman who’s nasty to the competition: other women. The object of her scorn is her secretary, Tess McGill (played by Melanie Griffith), who has her great ideas stolen by Katharine. The plucky Tess in turn pretends to be her boss’s colleague, and proceeds to shake things up in this corporate Cinderella story. Who doesn’t dream of one day suddenly arriving in a higher echelon of society? Of course, it’s what you do once you get there that’s important, and the glowing and tenacious Tess makes the most of it.
(Photo by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures/Marvel)
#3Hard-drinking, ass-kicking Valkyrie makes no apologies for her choices and draws solid boundaries. Sure, she’s flawed, but that’s what makes her successes so sweet. That she’s played by Tessa Thompson doubles the fun.
(Photo by Marvel/Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures)
#4Letitia Wright proved that a sister doesn’t have to sit in the shadow of her sibling simply because he’s king. Her Shuri has the smarts and the sass to cut her own path, making her technical genius essential not only to the Kingdom of Wakanda, but also the Avengers’ recent efforts to take down the tyrant Thanos.
(Photo by Fox 2000 Pictures)
#5Don’t ask us to choose a favorite among Hidden Figures’ Space Race heroines: Taraji P. Henson as Katherine G. Johnson, Octavia Spencer as Dorothy Vaughan, and Janelle Monáe as Mary Jackson. The Oscar-nominated drama tells the story of a real-life team of female African-American mathematicians crucial to NASA’s early space program.
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(Photo by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures/Lucasfilm Ltd)
#7Daisy Ridley gave girls everywhere – and full-grown women, in truth – a fresh new hero to adore when she debuted in Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Of humble origins, scrappy Rey overcomes her circumstances living as an orphan in a harsh environment to become an essential component in the Resistance. It helps, of course, that The Force is with her.
(Photo by Clay Enos/Warner Bros. Pictures)
#8Despite her superpowers and privileged background, Gal Gadot as Diana – princess of Themyscira and the Amazons, daughter of Queen Hippolyta and King of the Gods Zeus – retains her humility and a genuine care for humanity. She’s also the most rock solid member of DC’s boys club of Justice League superheroes.
(Photo by 20th Century Fox)
#9Come on…she’s Princess Leia. She leads the Rebel Alliance. She saves the galaxy again and again (with a little help from Luke, and Han, and Chewy). She eventually becomes a revered general, but from the very start – when she first confronts Darth Vader at the beginning of Episode IV – A New Hope – she shows a defiant, fiery nature that never dims. In her defining film role, Carrie Fisher brings impeccable comic timing to this cosmic princess.
(Photo by Roadside Attractions)
#10Before she was Katniss, Jennifer Lawrence was Ree, the role that made her a star and earned her the first of four Oscar nominations. A no-nonsense teenager, Ree dares to brave the dangers lurking within the Ozark Mountains to track down her drug-dealing father and protect her siblings and their home. With each quietly treacherous encounter, she shows depth and instincts beyond her years, and a willingness to fight for what matters.
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#11You can’t have any fear when you’re going up against Hannibal Lecter – or at least you can’t show it. He’ll sniff it out from a mile away. But what’s exciting about Jodie Foster’s Oscar-winning portrayal of the young FBI cadet is the way she works through her fear, harnessing that nervous energy alongside her powerful intellect and dogged determination. Clarice Starling is a hero for every little girl who thought she wasn’t good enough.
(Photo by Universal Pictures)
#12Julia Roberts won a best-actress Oscar for her charismatic portrayal of this larger-than-life, real-life figure. Erin Brockovich is repeatedly underestimated because of the flashy way she dresses and the brash way she carries herself. But as a single mom who becomes an unlikely environmental advocate, she’s a steely fighter. What she lacks in book smarts, she more than makes up for with heart. Steven Soderbergh’s film is an inspiring underdog story.
(Photo by 20th Century Fox)
#13Jane Craig is the toughest, sharpest, most prepared woman in the newsroom at all times, but she isn’t afraid to cry to let it all out when the pressure gets too great. Writer-director James L. Brooks created this feminist heroine, this workplace goddess, but Holly Hunter brilliantly brings her to life. She’s just so vibrant. Even when she’s sitting still (which isn’t often), you can feel her thinking. And while two men compete for her attention, no man could ever define her.
(Photo by MGM Studios)
#14It would be easy to underestimate Marge Gunderson. Sure, she’s in a position of power as the Brainerd, Minnesota, police chief. But with her folksy manner – and the fact that she’s so pregnant, she’s about to burst – she’s not exactly the most intimidating figure. But in the hands of the brilliant Frances McDormand, she’s consistently the smartest and most fearless person in the room, and she remains one of the Coen brothers’ most enduring characters. You betcha.
(Photo by Marvel/Walt Disney Studios)
#15Danai Gurira plays Okoye, the leader of the Dora Milaje who specializes in spear fighting and strategic wig flipping. Of late, Okoye has been seen keeping company with Avengers.
(Photo by Miramax Films)
#16Things Bridget Jones is prone to: accidents, fantasizing about sexy coworkers, worrying about her weight, and running mad into the snow wearing tiger-print underwear. All totally relatable things, so it’s no surprise she’s the highest-ranked romcom heroine on this list. It also doesn’t hurt that, at their best, Bridget’s movies are what romantic comedies aspire to: They’re fun, cute, and just when it feels like everything’s about to fall apart, there’s the exhilarating little twist at the end that leaves watchers feel like they’re floating on air.
(Photo by Paramount Pictures)
#17It’s true that Cher is a little oblivious to the world at large, but she’s just so earnest and she tries so hard. She discovers a passion for doing good after successfully matchmaking a pair of teachers, and after a series of difficult lessons learned, she makes an honest effort to escape her privileged bubble and become a better person. Like we all should.
(Photo by MGM Studios)
#18Thelma and Louise, best friends who stick by each other no matter what. And when their girls’ getaway weekend quickly turns from frivolous to frightening, they find even deeper levels of loyalty to each other. Geena Davis and Susan Sarandon have an effortless chemistry with each other, and Ridley Scott’s intimate and thrilling film never judges these women for the decisions they make — or for the lengths to which they’ll go in the name of freedom.
(Photo by Warner Brothers)
#19Enduring racism, misogyny, and emotional, physical, and sexual violence, Celie (Whoopi Goldberg in her film debut) transcends her traumatic life in the rural South, finding friends, strength, and her own voice.
(Photo by Sony Pictures Classics)
#20As a transgender waitress, Marina constantly endures cruelty and confusion from the ignorant people around her. When the one man who loves her for who she truly is dies unexpectedly, she finds herself in the midst of an even more emotional, personal fight. Transgender actress Daniela Vega initially was hired as a consultant on Sebastian Lelio’s film; instead, she became its star, and A Fantastic Woman deservedly won this year’s foreign-language Oscar.
(Photo by TriStar Pictures)
#21Sarah Connor makes many want to be a better mother – or at least get to the gym and work on our triceps. The once-timid waitress crafts herself into a force of nature, a fearsome and visceral manifestation of pure maternal instinct. Played most memorably by Linda Hamilton in the first two Terminator movies, Sarah may seem unhinged, but she’s got laser-like focus when it comes to protecting her son, John, from the many threats coming his way.
(Photo by Miramax Films)
#22The return of blaxploitation queen, Pam Grier! What’s not to love? Especially in Quentin Tarantino’s killer love letter to South Bay Los Angeles. As Jackie Brown, Grier exudes classic cool with a tough exterior.
(Photo by Richard Olley/Columbia Pictures)
#23Jessica Chastain has made a career of playing quick-witted characters with nerves of steel. Nowhere is this truer than in her starring role in Kathryn Bigelow’s thrilling depiction of the hunt for Osama bin Laden. Maya is obsessively focused in her pursuit of the al Qaeda leader. She’s a confident woman who has to be extra prepared to survive in a man’s world. But when the mission is over and she finally allows some emotion to shine through, it’s cathartic for us all.
(Photo by Warner Brothers/ Everett Collection)
#24She’s the smartest kid in the class, regardless of the subject. The hardest worker, too. And she’s proud of those qualities, making her an excellent role model for girls out there with an interest in math and science. But Hermione isn’t all about the books. Over the eight Harry Potter films, in Emma Watson’s increasingly confident hands, Hermione reveals her resourcefulness, loyalty, and grace. She’s a great student but an even better friend.
(Photo by Columbia Pictures/ Everett Collection)
#25Howard Hawks’ celebrated screwball comedy benefited from a not-so-small change to the stage play it was based on: In the original The Front Page, Hildy Johnson was a male. But thanks to Rosalind Russell’s lively performance, as well as a few script changes she personally insisted upon, the character blossomed into an early icon of the independent working woman who’s not only just as effective at her job as her male counterparts, but also equally adept with a witty comeback.
(Photo by Walt Disney/ Everett Collection)
#26Elastigirl takes on all the trials of motherhood: She’s got hyper kids, a bored husband, and has to witness certain parts of her body unperkify. Elastigirl also just happens to be a superhero, with the fate of the world resting on her shoulders.
(Photo by Universal/courtesy Everett Collection)
#27Fans of the short-lived but beloved Fox sci-fi series Firefly were already familiar with Gina Torres‘ badassery as Zoe Washburne in Serenity. A veteran of the Unification War and second in command of the ship, Zoe is a strong and loyal ally who rarely pulls punches, whether she’s stating a controversial opinion or engaged in a literal fistfight. With her free spirit and deadly skills, it’s no wonder she became a fan favorite.
(Photo by 20th Century Fox Film Corp./courtesy Everett Collection)
#28Dolly Parton is a national treasure, and 9 to 5 allows her to light up the screen with her sparkling, charismatic personality. But while Doralee may seem like a sweet Southern gal, she’s got a stiff backbone and a sharp tongue, and she isn’t afraid to use them when she’s crossed. When she finally stands up to her sexist bully of a boss alongside co-workers Lily Tomlin and Jane Fonda, it’s nothing short of a revolution – one that remains sadly relevant today.
(Photo by Columbia Pictures/courtesy Everett Collection)
#29The story of the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League is one that deserves to be told, and it’s Geena Davis‘ Dottie Hinson who grounds this fictional account. She’s a talented local player who becomes the star of the Rockford Peaches, and it’s her quick thinking that brings publicity to the sport. When her decision to play in the World Series leads to a spectacular finish, she also demonstrates a very human vulnerability, making her a strong but relatable heroine.
(Photo by Focus Features/courtesy Everett Collection)
#30Jane Austen’s classic heroine Elizabeth Bennet jumps off the page in the 2005 film starring Keira Knightley, who gives audiences an intelligent, down-to-Earth, sometimes literally dirty, but uncompromisingly steadfast leading lady.
(Photo by Everett Collection)
#31Never underestimate a sorority girl. They are organized and they know how to get what the want. In the case of Elle Woods, she goes after her law school goals with a smile on her face, a spring in her step, and an impeccably coordinated wardrobe. Reese Witherspoon is impossibly adorable in the role, with a potent combination of smarts and heart to shut down the naysayers who are foolish enough to judge her simply by her looks.
(Photo by Warner Bros./Courtesy Everett Collection)
#32Talk brashly and carry a big sword. As Tom Cruise’s character unravels a complex time travel sci-fi story, a constant in his fluctuating world is Rita Vrataski aka the killer Angel of Verdun. But Emily Blunt gives life to Rita beyond burgeoning love interest. She takes the lead and makes the movie just as much her’s.
(Photo by Marvel Studios)
#33When Nick Fury sent that mysterious intergalactic text message right before disappearing into dust at the end of Avengers: Infinity War, eager fans knew what was in store. As played by Brie Larson, Captain Marvel is one of the most powerful superheroes in the MCU — if not THE most powerful — and she’s in such high demand that she spends most of her time battling evil on other planets. She shows up when it counts, though, and she can rock a mowhawk like nobody’s business.
(Photo by Paramount /Courtesy Everett Collection)
#34Though hit hard by tragedy and seemingly insurmountable odds of surviving an alien invasion, mother and daughter duo Evelin and Regan Abbott prove their mettle in A Quiet Place.
(Photo by Paramount Pictures / Courtesy: Everett Collection)
(Photo by 20th Century Fox Film Corp./courtesy Everett Collection)
#36Who can stand up to Hugh Jackman’s fierce Wolverine without flinching? His cloned daughter X-23. Dafne Keen imbued the preteen mutant, a.k.a. “Laura,” with a volatile mix of anger, despondency, obstinance, and hope – that we would very much like to see more of.
(Photo by 20th Century Fox Film Corp./courtesy Everett Collection)
#37She’s Buffy. She slays vampires while juggling cheerleading and the SATs. But while Kristy Swanson gives the character a satricial bent, it’s the legendary TV adaptation that gives this character a lasting legacy. But the movie ain’t a bad place to start.
(Photo by Murray Close/©Lionsgate/courtesy Everett Collection)
Following in the footsteps of older brothers Luke and Chris, the youngling Hemsworth got his big break in 2010, starring with future tabloid flame Miley Cyrus in The Last Song. 2012 was also a breakthrough year, as he appeared in The Hunger Games as potential Katniss love interest Gale, and opposite Stallone (and a whole lotta other big guys) in The Expendables 2. Liam survived Hunger Games through three sequels, before jumping franchises with Independence Day: Resurgence.
His 2019 included showing off more of his comedy chops in Isn’t It Romantic, and his dark side with Killerman. With his latest releases, we’re ranking all Liam Hemsworth movies by Tomatometer!
Oh, mother! With Red Sparrow taking flight this week, we’re looking back on Jennifer Lawrence’s 10 best-reviewed movies!
(Photo by Sebastian Mlynarski/Roadside Attractions)
Aside from hardcore fans of The Bill Engvall Show, not many people knew who Jennifer Lawrence was in 2009 — but that all changed the following year with the release of Winter’s Bone, writer-director Debra Granik’s harrowing portrayal of a teenage girl who embarks on a perilous effort to locate her missing father in order to save her disabled mother and younger siblings from being evicted from their meager Ozarks home. Bleak stuff for sure, but limned with a subtle, yet resolute hope — not to mention the ferocity of Lawrence’s Oscar-nominated performance. “Winter’s Bone is a genuine triumph,” wrote Bill Goodykoontz of the Arizona Republic, paying it the ultimate compliment by adding that it’s “a great movie with astounding performances so natural, so genuine, that you forget it’s a movie.”
(Photo by Francois Duhamel/Columbia Pictures)
Wigs and prosthetics are often a dead giveaway that an actor (or a movie in general) is trying way too hard to make a sale, and David O. Russell’s American Hustle is full of ’em. Fortunately, all that artifice stops on the surface. David O. Russell’s ’70s period piece, about a real-life FBI sting operation that used a pair of con artists (played by Christian Bale and Amy Adams) to target corrupt politicians, lays the garish hair and wardrobe on thick, but it makes sense in context, and it’s all backed up by a wall of solid performances; just about the entire cast was nominated for Oscars, including Lawrence for her work as Bale’s unstable wife. Perhaps most importantly, it’s a lot of fun: as Colin Covert wrote for the Minneapolis Star Tribune, “Even at two hours and 20 minutes, the movie doesn’t wear you down. It carries you along with heedless momentum, giddy and exhilarated at its all-American ambition and scam-artist confidence.”
(Photo by JoJo Whilden/Weinstein Company)
How do you make a seriocomedy about mental illness without coming across as obnoxious or insensitive? It’s obviously easier said than done (just ask anyone who’s seen Mixed Nuts), but David O. Russell found a way with 2012’s Silver Linings Playbook, starring Lawrence and Bradley Cooper as a couple of bruised souls who meet cute after enduring terrible personal tragedies and somehow manage to nurture a connection in spite of the many emotional and circumstantial obstacles between them. While a few critics certainly questioned the wisdom of trying to wring any sort of comedy from such a serious subject, the vast majority applauded Playbook‘s deft treatment of sensitive material, and the Academy agreed — the movie picked up eight Oscar nominations, with Lawrence taking home Best Actress. “It’s Lawrence who knocked me sideways,” wrote David Edelstein for New York Magazine. “I loved her in Winter’s Bone and The Hunger Games but she’s very young — I didn’t think she had this kind of deep-toned, layered weirdness in her.”
(Photo by Murray Close/Lionsgate)
Why settle for starring in one blockbuster franchise when you can topline two? Already a prominent part of the rebooted X-Men movies, Jennifer Lawrence took the lead for Lionsgate’s adaptation of The Hunger Games, author Suzanne Collins’ bestselling YA book series about a dystopian future in which boys and girls are forced to fight to the death for a nation’s amusement. Starring as the archer Katniss Everdeen, Lawrence helped bring the books’ rather grim story to life with a soulful performance that went a long way toward setting the Hunger Games films apart from the many likeminded movies that have followed in their wake — and winning consistent praise from critics like the Houston Chronicle’s Amy Biancolli, who wrote of the first installment, “It features a functioning creative imagination and lots of honest-to-goodness acting by its star, Jennifer Lawrence, who brings her usual toughness and emotional transparency to the archer-heroine Katniss.”
(Photo by Alan Markfield/20th Century Fox Film Corp.)
A year after scoring her breakout role in Winter’s Bone, Lawrence committed herself to several films’ worth of CGI action sequences (and slinking around in little more than a blue bodysuit) when she signed on to play the new Mystique in X-Men: First Class, the first installment in the freshly rebooted X-Men series. An Oscar winner by the time she returned for 2014’s Days of Future Past, Lawrence found herself at the center of a complex time-travel storyline that used her character as the emotional fulcrum for the franchise’s most ambitious attempt yet to place thought-provoking questions of prejudice against an action-fueled blockbuster backdrop. The end result blended sheer popcorn thrills almost seamlessly with the sociopolitical subtext the X-Men comics have always been known for; as the Wall Street Journal’s Joe Morgenstern marveled, “Everything is of a piece, and it’s dazzling.”
(Photo by Fred Hayes/Paramount Pictures)
Anyone who’s ever attempted a long-distance relationship knows they can be hell, and writer-director Drake Doremus knows that pain more intimately than most — as evidenced by Like Crazy, the winsome romantic drama he and co-writer Ben York Jones weaved out of their real-life long-distance broken hearts and turned into a starring vehicle for Anton Yelchin and Felicity Jones. When the movie opens, he lives in L.A. and she’s a visiting British exchange student, and although falling in love is easy, their permanent addresses aren’t — especially after she overstays her student visa and is exiled to the U.K., driving the couple apart long enough for him to start a new relationship with someone who doesn’t live across the Atlantic (Jennifer Lawrence). While the story’s broad contours may be familiar, Doremus and his sharp cast handle the formula with aplomb; the result is what the Washington Post’s Ann Hornaday deemed “A serious, deeply felt romance for an audience Hollywood most often bombards with raunchy sex comedies and video-game adaptations.”
(Photo by Paramount Pictures)
Truly challenging mainstream cinema is typically in short supply regardless of the era, and in our current franchise-driven times, that’s arguably truer than ever. So no matter how it ended up being received by critics, writer-director Darren Aronofsky’s mother! offered a wide release worth celebrating in 2017 — a story that dared to challenge, and outright provoke, audiences while offering little in the way of traditional narrative compensation. Starring Lawrence as a woman whose seemingly bucolic existence with her husband (Javier Bardem) is upended by the arrival of some mysterious guests (Michelle Pfeiffer and Ed Harris), the movie was greeted with some of the most wildly divisive reactions of the year — although most critics were more than happy to be baffled, Aronofsky-style. The end result, as Glenn Kenny argued for RogerEbert.com, functions as “A hallucination that’s also an angry cry about the state of this world, but most importantly, a cinematic experience of unique proportions.”
(Photo by Summit Entertainment)
In the years after his fall from public grace following several bouts of bizarre and generally offensive and/or ill-advised behavior, Mel Gibson needed a project that could help regenerate a little goodwill by taking him out of his dramatic wheelhouse and reminding audiences that he could still act — and he got one in the form of The Beaver, a directorial effort from Gibson’s friend Jodie Foster that gave the Lethal Weapon star the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to play a guy who responds to a series of horrible personal setbacks by developing what appears to be an alternate personality channeled through a beaver puppet on his hand. It’s the kind of left-field premise you have to see to believe, especially given that Foster rounded out her cast with likable pros like Anton Yelchin (as Gibson’s embarrassed son) and, of course, Jennifer Lawrence(as the classmate he’s afraid to get too close to because of his weirdo dad). Destined for the commercial margins and dismissed as too tonally disjointed by some critics, The Beaver was nevertheless hailed as a dam fine film by the majority — including Lisa Kennedy of the Denver Post, who wrote, “The film is amusing, then melancholy, then weirdly funny, then not. It’s a quiet, measured work.”
(Photo by 20th Century Fox Film Corp.)
Jennifer Lawrence and David O. Russell worked Hollywood magic together with Silver Linings Playbook and American Hustle, so you can hardly blame them for reuniting again — especially to film the stranger-than-fiction real-life story of Joy Mangano, the entrepreneur who became a self-made millionaire after inventing the Miracle Mop. Lawrence and Russell’s undeniable rapport, brought to bear on a classically uplifting story with a postmodern twist, made Joy look like an awards contender — as did the rest of the movie’s terrific cast, rounded out by fellow Russell vets Robert De Niro and Bradley Cooper. With all those top-shelf ingredients, the lukewarm reaction to the movie couldn’t help but feel disappointing; still, Lawrence fans shouldn’t come away disappointed by her performance, which drew applause even when the film around her didn’t. “In the end, Joy is more slender and inconsequential than Russell probably intends it to be — it wears its ideas rather than embodying them,” wrote Stephanie Zacharek for Time. “But Lawrence keeps the channels of communication open, every minute, with the audience.”
(Photo by Phase 4 Films courtesy Everett Collection)
Lawrence picked up her first major film role in The Poker House, a grim drama marking Tank Girl star Lori Petty’s debut as a writer-director. While few saw it at the time, there’s no denying Petty’s great taste in casting — aside from Lawrence, playing the oldest of three sisters subjected to deplorable living conditions by their deeply troubled mother (Selma Blair), House also features an early appearance from Chloe Grace Moretz, as well as a disturbing turn from Bokeem Woodbine as the mother’s reprehensible pimp. “The Poker House is one of the most personal, wounded films in years,” wrote John Wheeler for L.A. Weekly. “That it is also one of the most confused reflects how deeply it springs from the psyche of its director.”
Though the hold was impressive, Part 2 is still running 12% behind last year’s Part 1 which had banked $225.7M at the same point. Look for the final Katniss flick to break $200M on Monday and finish its North American run with about $300M. That would be the lowest total in the franchise, but still it is extremely rare for a movie franchise to boast $100M+ openings and $300M+ finals for each of four installments.
International weekend grosses brought in an estimated $62M with all major markets playing now. Cume rose to $242.4M putting the worldwide tally at $440.7M and the entire Hunger Games franchise at $2.7 billion since 2012.
Lionsgate has owned the turkey session over the past five years with its Twilight and Hunger Games sequels which all opened huge on the weekend before Thanksgiving and then held the top spot again over the holiday frame. But the Harry Potter franchise hopes to reclaim its territory next year with the release of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them on November 18 which will try to stay on top for at least two weekends.
The Pixar brand is not bulletproof after all. The computer animation leader saw its latest entry The Good Dinosaur open in second place with some of the worst numbers in company history launching to an estimated $39.2M over the Friday-to-Sunday span and $55.6M over the long five-day holiday frame. The last 13 Pixar films all generated bigger opening weekends across the last 16 years. The only ones to debut smaller were the company’s first two films in the 1990s – Toy Story and A Bug’s Life – and both of those sold more tickets than Dinosaur did.
Reviews were not as glowing as for recent original Pixar films, but they were still very strong. The CinemaScore grade was a solid A so those who did come out and buy tickets enjoyed the product they got. In a first, Pixar released two films in the same year as The Good Dinosaur followed June’s Inside Out which bowed to a much more muscular $90.4M over a standard three-day weekend. Dinosaur‘s look and feel were more kid-oriented too so some of the non-family crowd – which Pixar films do great with – skipped this time around contributing to the deficit. The last seven consecutive films from the toon giant all opened north of $60M.
Disney still has plenty of time ahead. With good word-of-mouth, Dinosaur should continue to play as it faces no competition over the next two weeks. Historically, Thanksgiving kidpics with positive buzz can finish with three times their 5-day openings or more. Of its 15 movies over two decades, Pixar’s lowest grossing film ever is 1998’s A Bug’s Life with $162.8M. Reaching that mark is not guaranteed right now for The Good Dinosaur.
Overseas openings were also softer for The Good Dinosaur. Compared to the debuts for Inside Out, Mexico was down 59%, the U.K. fell 61%, France was down 39%, Argentina was off 33%, and Russia was down 73%. Many key markets will open after Christmas.
Now in its fifth decade, the Rocky franchise offered a new installment with the spinoff film Creed which delivered a terrific opening grossing an estimated $30.1M over the Friday-to-Sunday span and $42.6M over five days. With Michael B. Jordan playing the son of Apollo Creed and Sylvester Stallone back as the Italian Stallion, this PG-13 entry catered to long-time Rocky fans plus wider audiences too.
At the core of the success is a very strong product. Both reviews and word-of-mouth from moviegoers are off the charts and that bodes well for the weeks ahead. Creed averaged a stellar $8,848 from 3,404 locations with older males powering the sales. Studio data showed that men made up 66% of the crowd and 62% were over 25. Thanksgiving weekend 30 years ago was ruled by the record opening of Rocky IV which featured the death of Apollo Creed (spoiler alert!) Now, that character’s son is hoping to reach the highest gross ever in franchise history.
Another decades-old franchise having good luck in November is James Bond and its latest installment, SPECTRE, claimed fourth place with $12.8M over the Friday-to-Sunday span. The 15% dip was almost identical to Skyfall’s 14% slide when it was a holdover on Thanksgiving weekend in 2012. The new 007 has banked $176.1M domestically making it the second biggest Bond ever, but is also running 28% behind the pace of Skyfall. Powered by sensational numbers in China and the U.K., SPECTRE has climbed to more than $750M worldwide which is also second best for the long-running franchise.
With a new toon in the marketplace, The Peanuts Movie slipped 27% to an estimated $9.7M in its fourth round. Fox’s cume to date is $116.8M. Sony’s raunchy comedy The Night Before followed with an estimated $8.2M dropping only 17% in its sophomore session. Total is $24.1M.
Julia Roberts and Nicole Kidman saw their crime drama The Secret In Their Eyes fall 32% to an estimated $4.5M in its second weekend. It was the second biggest drop in the top ten behind Mockingjay and STX has collected just $14M.
Awards hopefuls filled up the rest of the top ten. The critically acclaimed Spotlight expanded and boosted its theater count by 50% going from 598 to 897 locations and grossed an estimated $4.5M for a good $5,011 average. Fox Searchlight’s period piece Brooklyn widened from 111 to 845 locations and climbed up to ninth place with an estimated $3.8M and $4,535 average. Totals are $12.3M and $7.3M, respectively.
Spending an incredible ninth straight weekend in the top ten, The Martian dipped only 13% to an estimated $3.3M pushing the cume up to $218.6M for Fox. It’s the second biggest hit ever for Matt Damon and still has a shot at surpassing The Bourne Ultimatum thanks to great legs.
The horror adventure Victor Frankenstein was utterly rejected by audiences over Thanksgiving. The PG-13 pic starring James McAvoy and Daniel Radcliffe grossed an estimated $2.4M over the three-day span and just $3.4M across the five-day holiday weekend. That gave Fox a puny $840 average over three days from 2,797 locations. Reviews were negative and there was never any consumer demand for this one. The five-day holiday gross did not even reach half of the $8.6M opening weekend for last year’s I, Frankenstein which bowed over a standard three-day period. Darker fare has always struggled over cheery holidays like Thanksgiving and Christmas and it was no different this year.
Oscar winner Eddie Redmayne saw a good start for his attempt at winning back-to-back Best Actor trophies as The Danish Girl bowed to an estimated $185,000 from four theaters for a strong $46,250 average. Reviews have been good, but not stellar for the Focus release. The R-rated drama will now face the same challenge as so many other art films from recent months – selling to audiences outside of the safety zones of New York and Los Angeles. The Danish Girl expands on December 11 and will continue to widen throughout the Christmas season.
The top ten films grossed an estimated $167.7M which was up 11% from last year’s Thanksgiving when The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 stayed at number one with $57M; but down 12% from 2013 when Catching Fire remained in the top spot with $74.2M.
The PG-13 actioner opened 17% below the $121.9M of Mockingjay Part 1 and 36% below the $158.1M of Catching Fire. All the Hunger Games sequels opened on this same November frame over consecutive years. Audience erosion has been at play across these films with many fans that lined up for the first two chapters deciding to skip one or both of the final ones. Still, these are hefty grosses that make for profitable films on a worldwide scale.
Reviews were about even with Part 1’s from last year. But the declining grosses are in sharp contrast to the way the Harry Potter and Twilight franchises concluded. All were based on wildly popular books and featured the final book divided into two films in order to grab more cash from the pockets of fans. As with Hunger Games, the final Twilight films (Breaking Dawn) launched on the weekend before Thanksgiving in November but Part 2‘s opening actually enjoyed a slight uptick from Part 1 with fans gathering together for the finale. That was not the case for the Jennifer Lawrence series as interest and excitement deflated steadily.
The new Mockingjay‘s weekend kicked off with a $46M opening day Friday which included $16M from Thursday night pre-shows starting at 7:00pm. Saturday fell 27% to $33.8M and Sunday is projected to drop another 37% to $21.3M. That is the same Sunday decline as last year’s chapter. IMAX was part of the fun this time with 371 screens for Part 2‘s opening unlike last year when Interstellar already locked them up leaving Part 1 with other PLF screens.
Recent Katniss sequels had the same calendar and achieved 36-37% of their domestic finals on opening weekend. A similar road for the new installment would put it on course to end in the $270-280M neighborhood.
Overseas markets saw good launches for Mockingjay Part 2 with the foreign total reaching $146M from 87 markets which was slightly below the $152M from 85 markets for Part 1 a year ago which did not even include China which opened much later. So Americans are not the only ones losing interest in Katniss.
China was part of the first weekend of markets on Part 2 and delivered $16.4M which was second behind only the $17.1M from the U.K. Germany was the only other territory to break double digit millions with $14.4M. Openings dipped from Part 1’s numbers in many key markets like the U.K., Russia, Australia, Mexico, and Brazil. To date, the Hunger Games films have collectively grossed $2.56 billion worldwide and may reach the $3 billion mark for a remarkable average of $750M global per pic.
The latest James Bond film Spectre took a hit in its third round falling 57% to an estimated $14.6M pushing the domestic total up to $153.7M. With massive cumes in China and the U.K., Sony’s global tally shot up past $670M.
Kidpic The Peanuts Movie dropped 47% in its third weekend to an estimated $12.8M putting Fox at $98.9M overall. The long Thanksgiving holiday frame will open the doors for more families to come out and see Snoopy and friends, however the opening of Pixar’s The Good Dinosaur will make for some hefty competition.
Seth Rogen’s new raunchy comedy The Night Before debuted in fourth with mild results making an estimated $10.1M from 2,960 locations for a so-so $3,412 average. Sony plugged the film into this weekend as counter-programming against Katniss hoping to lure in young men and hopes word-of-mouth will be good enough to take it into the turkey frame. The opening was in line with past Rogen comedies with no other big stars. The CinemaScore was a good A- and reviews were decent.
Stars of yesteryear Julia Roberts and Nicole Kidman failed to draw in audiences for their new crime thriller The Secret In Their Eyes which bowed in fifth with an estimated $6.7M from 2,392 locations for a weak $2,780 average for STX. A PG-13 remake of an Oscar-winning film from Argentina, Secret was panned by critics and ticket buyers were not pleased either as the CinemaScore was a lousy B-. Appeal was limited to mature women who had better options.
With bad reviews and lukewarm audience buzz, the Christmas comedy Love the Coopers did not see the type of good hold many holiday films see this time of year. The CBS pic fell 53% in its second frame to an estimated $3.9M lifting the total to a modest $14.9M. Fox’s The Martian enjoyed its eighth weekend in the top ten grossing an estimated $3.7M, off 45%, for a new cume of $213M.
Unlike many awards hopefuls this fall, the investigative journalism drama Spotlight fared well in its national expansion grossing an estimated $3.6M from 598 locations for a solid $6,025 average. Open Road widened the critically acclaimed pic from 60 theaters into only moderate national play this frame and will go wider over the crowded Thanksgiving session. Cume is $5.9M and with its strong audience buzz, this one could play well over the weeks ahead with upscale adults.
The mining disaster flick The 33 tumbled 61% in its sophomore frame to an estimated $2.2M giving Warner Bros. a terrible $9.9M. Steven Spielberg’s Bridge of Spies clung to the top ten in its sixth round with an estimated $1.9M, down 54%, putting Disney at $65.2M. It remains on course to end as one of the famed director’s lowest grossing wide releases ever.
The top ten films grossed an estimated $160.6M which was down 13% from last year when The Hunger Games — Mockingjay Part 1 opened at number one with $121.9M; and down 25% from 2013 when The Hunger Games: Catching Fire debuted in the top spot with $158.1M.
This week at the movies, we’ve got Katniss Everdeen (The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2, starring Jennifer Lawrence and Julianne Moore), some party-hearty bros (The Night Before, starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Seth Rogen), and a dogged detective (Secret in their Eyes, starring Chiwetel Ejioforand Julia Roberts). What do the critics have to say?
The Hunger Games franchise has helped make Jennifer Lawrence a household name, and critics say her assured performance as Katniss Everdeen is the best thing about The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2, a satisfying — if occasionally overly grim — conclusion to the series. This time, Katniss leads a guerilla army to eliminate the despotic President Snow (Donald Sutherland) — and discovers that some within the rebellion may have agendas of their own. The pundits say Mockingjay – Part 2 is bleak and a little too long, but it’s also rousing, jolting, and intelligent, which befits a saga that has done much to alter the action movie landscape.
When Seth Rogen, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, and director Jonathan Levine last joined forces, the result was 2011’s 50/50, a funny, heartfelt dramedy that was as moving as it was funny. Anthony Mackie joins them in their latest collaboration, The Night Before, and critics say the result is a surprisingly warm holiday bromance, even if its drug-fueled humor sometimes misses the mark. Boyhood buddies Isaac (Rogen), Ethan (Gordon-Levitt)
Not every American remake of a foreign language film is doomed to failure; some, like Best Picture winner The Departed, have equaled or surpassed the originals. Unfortunately, critics say Secret in their Eyes (based upon the Oscar-winning 2009 Argentinian film of the same name) never justifies its own existence, despite the best effort of an A-list cast that includes Chiwetel Ejiofor, Julia Roberts, and Nicole Kidman. Ejiofor stars as a former FBI agent who has resumed his investigation into the murder of a colleague’s daughter after discovering new information — but solving this mystery may uncover even darker secrets. The pundits say Secret in their Eyes lacks the specific political context that made the original so chilling, and what’s left is little more than a decent police procedural.
The Man in the High Castle is unlike anything else on TV, with an immediately engrossing plot driven by quickly developed characters in a fully realized post-World War II dystopia.
Jessica Jones builds a multifaceted drama around its engaging antihero, delivering what might be Marvel’s strongest TV franchise to date.
Into the Badlands is loaded with off-kilter potential that’s left largely unfulfilled — although its well-choreographed action sequences should satisfy martial arts fans.
Also Opening This Week In Limited Release
This week on streaming video, we’ve got a couple of acclaimed horror movie satires, the latest from Noah Baumbach, the penultimate chapter of the Hunger Games series, and a couple of Halloween episodes of popular TV shows. Then, we’ve also got a number of indie comedies, thrillers, and classics to round out the lot, as well as five excellent choices available for purchase. Read on for the full list.
Ben Stiller, Naomi Watts, Amanda Seyfried, and Adam Driver star in Noah Baumbach’s Certified Fresh dramedy about a childless couple who feel energized when they begin hanging out with a younger hipster couple.
Available now on: Amazon Prime
Horror icon Wes Craven’s subversive deconstruction of the genre is a sly, funny and surprisingly effective satire of slasher flicks that just happens to work pretty well as a slasher flick itself.
Available now on: Amazon Prime
As with the first film, Scream 2 is a gleeful takedown of scary movie conventions that takes jabs at terrible horror sequels without falling victim to the same fate.
Available now on: Amazon Prime
Will Ferrell and Rebecca Hall star in this adaptation of a Raymond Carver short story about an alcoholic car salesman who reacts to losing his job and being kicked out of his home by camping out in his front yard and selling off his possessions.
Available now on: Amazon Prime
Jennifer Lawrence reprises her role as Katniss Everdeen in the penultimate chapter of the immensely popular Hunger Games franchise. After upending the Hunger Games, Katniss has become the reluctant face of rebellion; will she be able to save Peeta and lead the resistance to victory?
The famed annual “Treehouse of Horror” episode of The Simpsons aired this past Sunday, and Hulu has it now. In this year’s vignettes, Bart gets reanimated, Homer loses his memory, and Bart, Lisa, and Milhouse get superpowers.
Available now on: Hulu
In Family Guy‘s Halloween-themed episode, Peter and the gang venture into an abandoned asylum to get inspiration for a horror movie, but they end up killing a guy instead.
Available now on: Hulu
In this recent thriller, a mysterious man named Six (Liam Cunningham) arrives in a small Scottish town and promptly ends up in police custody, and before long, mayhem befalls the town.
Available now on: Netflix
In this crime thriller from France, a pair of police officers square off against the Serbian mafia after they discover a series of connected murders in the city of Toulon.
Available now on: Netflix
Kevin Corrigan, Cobie Smulders, and Guy Pearce and star in this comedy about a newly divorced rich guy who falls under the influence of a gym owner and his sometimes-girlfriend.
Available now on: Netflix
Cobie Smulders stars in a dramedy about a high school teacher and a student who bond over their unplanned pregnancies.
Available now on: Netflix
The great French auteur Jean Renoir directed this beautiful, bittersweet 40-minute film about a family’s idyllic vacation in the French countryside.
Available now on: Fandor
This tragic tale of star-crossed love was an early success for the great Ingmar Bergman, and remained one of his personal favorites.
Available now on: Fandor
Catherine Deneuve stars in Jacques Demy’s colorful, heartbreaking nouvelle vague-inspired musical about a brief affair between an auto mechanic and a teenager who works in her mother’s umbrella shop.
Available now on: Fandor
Well-to-do Simon (Jason Bateman) has a seemingly chance encounter with Gordo (Edgerton), an old high school classmate. But Gordo starts showing up everywhere Simon goes, and leaving odd gifts at his house; is there something in their pasts that prompted such behavior?
Alex Gibney’s multiple Emmy-winning HBO documentary makes use of first-hand accounts and archival footage to profile the history and inner workings of Scientology and delve into the accusations of abuse that have been leveled against the organization over the years.
Available now on: iTunes
Two agents — American Napoleon Solo (Henry Cavill) and Soviet Illya Kuryakin (Armie Hammer) — team up to stop a mysterious criminal organization that threatens both nations. They get an assist from Gaby Teller (Alicia Vikander), an East German mechanic who has an inside track on how to infiltrate the gang.
This week on home video, we’ve got the penultimate installment of the Hunger Games franchise, the final installment of the Night at the Museum franchise, and a handful of other releases. It was a pretty thin week for big titles, but there are a couple of smaller films worth a look. Read on for details:
Yes, technically speaking, this came out last week on Friday. But since it bucked the typical “Tuesday release” trend, we’re doing a bit of our own trend-bucking and talking about it today. Chances are that you won’t pick this up for yourself if you haven’t seen the first two films, and if you saw the first two films, you’re probably a fan, which means you more than likely saw Mockingjay Part 1 in the theaters. In other words, it’s probably enough just to know that it’s officially available. But for the sake of tradition, we’ll just say that the film picks up where Catching Fire left off, with the Hunger Games broken and Katniss uniting with a resistance force that wants to utilize her notoriety for its cause. Will she lead the rebellion and save Peeta? You already know, but now you can watch it at home.
If there’s one thing the Night at the Museum franchise is, it’s consistent. The first two films both notched 44 percent on the Tomatometer, and the final installment, Secret of the Tomb earned a 49 percent score. The film stars Ben Stiller as everyman museum security guard Larry Daley, whose friends consist of exhibits brought to life by an ancient mystical tablet. This time around, Larry discovers the magic of the tablet is fading, so he and a select few members of the gang visit the British Museum in London for answers, and hijinks ensue. Sadly, this film is likely to be most remembered as the final onscreen performance of Robin Williams, who offers a touching and surprisingly fitting goodbye as Teddy Roosevelt to Stiller’s Larry, but the series has been successful and popular with the kids, so it’s probably not a terrible home library pickup.
The Sound of Music (1965) (85 percent) is celebrating its 50th anniversary with a new Blu-ray release.
The Breakfast Club (1985) (90 percent) is also celebrating an anniversary this year — its 30th — so there’s a new Blu-ray release for that as well.
Listen Up Philip (2014) (84 percent), starring Jason Schwartzman and Elizabeth Moss in a comedy about a writer who accepts an invitation to stay at his idol’s summer home.
R100 (2015) (82 percent), Hitoshi Matsumoto’s off-beat comedy-drama about a man who indulges in a unique S&M service, only to be randomly accosted by dominatrixes of different varieties in public.
WolfCop (2014) (65 percent), a Canadian horror-comedy about, well, a wolf cop.
Low Down (2014) (51 percent), starring John Hawkes and Elle Fanning in a drama set in 1970s Hollywood about a heroin-addicted musician and his relationship to his daughter.
The annual post-turkey blues kicked in, and kicked in hard. North America’s box office slumped to its second worst weekend of 2014 with The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 easily holding onto the crown for the third consecutive time. Lionsgate’s latest chapter in the Katniss franchise grossed an estimated $21.6M dropping 62% from the Thanksgiving holiday session. That was slightly better than the 65% fall that Catching Fire suffered this same weekend last year.
With $257.7M collected, Mockingjay is now running 23% behind the pace of Fire and 15% behind the first Hunger Games which played in the spring of 2012. A domestic final in the range of $325M seems likely. Fire faced the new Hobbit film in its fourth weekend, but Mockingjay does not have to deal with that franchise’s latest – and final – chapter until its fifth frame giving it a little extra breathing room. Mockingjay Part 2 opens on November 20 next year and should excite fans more than Part 1 did and witness a better box office run being the concluding installment for the series. The four films should collectively gross over $3 billion worldwide.
Overseas, Mockingjay shattered the $300M mark and lifted the international sum to $302.8M putting the new global gross at $560.5M. It still has two major territories to open next year – Japan in May and China on an undetermined date. Reaching $750M worldwide is possible.
Also staying put was the DreamWorks Animation offering Penguins of Madagascar which remained in second place, this time grossing an estimated $11.1M. The PG-rated family film struggled on opening weekend and dropped 56% in its second round for a 12-day cume of $49.6M. By comparison, the studio’s last Thanksgiving toon Rise of the Guardians held up better dipping just 43% in its sophomore session. Historically, animated films do very well on Black Friday and then fall hard on the following weekend, except for movies with Christmas themes involved. Santa was one of the main characters in the winter-themed Rise. After 12 days of release via distributor Fox, Penguins is now only 1.5% ahead of Rise‘s total from the same point with no holiday theme to keep it relevant throughout December.
Penguins of Madagascar is now on track to finish its domestic run with roughly $88M. 15 of the last 16 films from DreamWorks Animation did better. Even the studio’s last spinoff attempt with Puss in Boots was stronger with $149.3M. The studio will need to determine if there is a market for the extraordinarily high number of films it puts out. Over the last four years, DreamWorks Animation has come out with ten films compared to only three from rival Pixar.
With holiday distractions taking center stage, and studios not offering anything new and worthwhile in wide release, the North American box office took a big hit with the Top 20 tumbling down to just $75M. The only weekend in 2014 that was worse was the September 5-7 frame when the Top 20 limped to just $58M. December has gotten off to a lousy start with very few must-see movies playing and next weekend is not likely to see a huge jump putting pressure on the final two weeks of the year to pack audiences in.
In its second weekend, the crude buddy comedy Horrible Bosses 2 dropped 44% which is pretty good for coming off of a holiday session. But the gross was still relatively weak at an estimated $8.6M with the new total now sitting at an unimpressive $36.1M. After 12 days of release, the Warner Bros. pic is running a whopping 45% below its 2011 predecessor’s pace. A final of $60-65M should result making a third chapter unlikely.
Disney’s hit toon Big Hero 6 fell 57% from the holiday frame and grossed an estimated $8.1M lifting the cume to a stellar $177.5M. Baymax and pals have now surpassed How To Train Your Dragon 2 to become the second biggest animated film of 2014 trailing just The LEGO Movie. Hero is running 12% ahead of the pace of the studio’s Wreck-It Ralph from two years ago and could finish its domestic run with about $210M. While there are some live-action family films coming up in the weeks ahead, no other toons will open during the Christmas holidays.
Close behind in fifth with an estimated $8M was the sci-fi hit Interstellar which declined by 49%. Paramount has taken in $158.7M with Christopher Nolan’s much-talked-about space adventure on its way to about $180M in North America. Interstellar is already this year’s top-grossing movie not based on any pre-existing brand. International markets saw their total rise to $434.4M giving the Matthew McConaughey film $593.1M worldwide. In China it has grossed an incredible $119.2M which is second best among all US films this year behind only the monster $300M+ of the latest Transformers. Among 2D films from Hollywood, it is now number one of all-time there.
The Jim Carrey comedy sequel Dumb and Dumber To dropped 50% to an estimated $4.2M and has banked $78.1M for Universal. A final of $85-90M seems likely which would fall well below the $127.2M of Dumb and Dumber from 20 years ago when ticket prices were an average of just $4.17.
Off 47% was the Stephen Hawking pic The Theory of Everything with an estimated $2.7M. With Eddie Redmayne a serious contender to take the Best Actor Oscar, the Focus release has grossed $13.6M to date and enjoyed the second best per-theater average among all wide releases after the Katniss pic. Ben Affleck’s Gone Girl followed with an estimated $1.5M, off only 39% from the Thanksgiving holiday weekend, for a new total of $162.9M. The Fox title has now remained in the top ten for ten consecutive weekends matching Guardians of the Galaxy for the most of any 2014 film.
The only new release to open anywhere close to wide this weekend was the horror film The Pyramid which stumbled into ninth place with an estimated $1.4M. The R-rated thriller set in Egypt averaged a mild $2,292 from 589 locations. Reviews were awful for the Fox release. This year has seen very few hits come from the horror genre. Rounding out the top ten was Fox Searchlight’s awards contender Birdman with an estimated $1.2M, down 39%, for a $18.9M cume.
The specialty marketplace was still active with Reese Witherspoon’s new film Wild opening nicely to an estimated $630,000 from 21 theaters in seven cities for a $30,000 average. Total is $677,000 including business in New York and Los Angeles from Wednesday. Reviews have been sensational and Witherspoon is getting much praise for her performance which is sure to lead to another Best Actress Oscar nomination. Fox Searchlight will expand to the Top 20 markets on Friday for a total of about 100 theaters and widen to about 900 locations by Christmas Day.
Over in the men’s race, Benedict Cumberbatch’s The Imitation Game expanded from four to eight theaters and grossed an estimated $402,000 for a strong $50,250 average. The Weinstein Co. will open in six new markets this Friday and aims to be nationwide on December 25 as well in this year’s crowded awards marketplace. Gracing the cover of Time Magazine and locking in the title role in Marvel’s upcoming super hero pic Doctor Strange, Cumberbatch has seen his star rise dramatically over the last month on this side of the pond. Weinstein will try to cash in on that.
The top ten films grossed an estimated $68.3M which was down 19% from last year when Frozen rose to number one with $31.6M; and even with 2012 when Skyfall climbed into the top spot with $10.8M.
For the sixth consecutive year, the Thanksgiving holiday session was ruled by a leftover literary-based sequel as The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1
remained at number one with an estimated $56.9M in ticket sales over the Friday-to-Sunday span. Across the five-day weekend from Wednesday-to-Sunday, the latest Katniss adventure amassed a stellar $82.7M. New releases did not come close to reaching these heights.
Looking at the most obvious comp – The Hunger Games: Catching Fire which was released this same way last year – Mockingjay is eroding at the same rate. Both fell by 53% on the second weekend which was the turkey frame. Given the new film’s smaller opening weekend and harsher fan feedback, having the same drop is a win. Threequels tend to fade faster. Mockingjay opened 23% below Fire and the ten-day cume of $225.7M is 24% behind so it is still playing out in similar fashion. Fire stood at a towering $296.3M at this same point in its release.
But the Panem franchise sets a high bar. Overall, Mockingjay enjoyed the third largest five-day Thanksgiving feast in history beating out the many Twilight and Harry Potter films that were released in mid-November. The only movies to ever gobble up larger slices of the holiday pie were last year’s awesome twosome – Catching Fire with $109.9M and Frozen‘s opening of $93.6M. So though weaker, Mockingjay still attracted terrific business for Lionsgate. Should it continue to follow Fire‘s trajectory over the coming weeks, it would finish its domestic run in the vicinity of $320M which would mean it would not surpass Guardians of the Galaxy to become 2014’s biggest hit. Marvel’s super hero squad stands at $331.9M and is still in the Top 20 in its 18th weekend.
Overseas markets are healthy with an additional $67M this weekend boosting the international cume to $254.4M for a worldwide sum of $480.1M. While domestic is 24% behind Fire, the global take is only 16% lower as markets around the world are not losing as many fans this time around as the U.S. is. U.K. leads with $32.8M.
DreamWorks Animation suffered another setback as its latest offering – and third this year – Penguins of Madagascar opened to mild results in second place with an estimated $25.8M over the Friday-to-Sunday period. The PG-rated spinoff collected $36M over the five-day Thanksgiving holiday span. The three-day period averaged $6,854 from 3,764 locations with the comical bird team generating only the sixth best toon opening of 2014. Debuting better this year were The LEGO Movie, Big Hero 6, How To Train Your Dragon 2, Rio 2, and Mr. Peabody and Sherman – and none of them had holiday help.
Reviews were fairly good for Penguins and the only major competitor in the top ten was Disney’s Hero which has enjoyed good legs. The Thanksgiving marketplace usually expands to accommodate multiple toons – if paying audiences are actually excited about them. But for Penguins, the five-day gross was weaker than the three-day openings for every past Madagascar film (the last two bowed to $60M+). Granted, top stars like Ben Stiller and Chris Rock were not part of this new installment, but most films from DreamWorks Animation do better. 13 of their last 15 films opened higher than Penguins.
The new offering did, however, perform somewhat better than the studio’s Rise of the Guardians which also launched over Thanksgiving weekend. Penguins opened 11% better than Rise which two years ago signaled problems for DreamWorks. It has three more animated films on the calendar for 2015 which will continue to test the demands of the public. Families may not need this much content.
Penguins had broad appeal as the audience skewed 51% female according to distributor Fox. 58% were over 25, 52% were non-white, and the CinemaScore grade was a good A-. 3D screens accounted for 24% of the gross which is fairly normal for a toon. With $36M from 44 overseas markets, the global cume for Penguins stands at $72M.
Families were still interested in the buzzworthy Disney toon Big Hero 6 which collected an estimated $18.8M in its fourth weekend, off just 7%. With $167.2M so far, it is running 12% ahead of the pace of the studio’s Wreck-it Ralph from this time two years ago and may finish with around $210M. The global tally currently stands at $224.1M with most major markets not open yet.
Christopher Nolan’s sci-fi thriller Interstellar inched up 3% from last weekend and grossed an estimated $15.8M in its fourth round. Paramount has banked a strong $147.1M to date and looks headed for a finish in the $180-190M range from North America. The space flick has done exceptionally well on IMAX screens where it has grossed a stellar $91M worldwide to date which already is fourth best in company history with more cash to come.
Overseas markets are still rocking with a $44.4M weekend pushing the international cume up to $395.2M for Warner Bros. for a global tally of $542.3M. China crossed the century mark this weekend with $106M to date while Korea has also been a standout with $61M with European territories far behind. Breaking $700M worldwide is possible.
Continuing the bad year for R-rated comedies, Horrible Bosses 2 landed in fifth place with an estimated opening of $15.7M over three days and $23M since its Wednesday launch. The weak results saw the five-day holiday opening fall below the $28.3M three-day non-holiday launch of its 2011 predecessor. That film was a surprise leggy hit that summer grossing $117.5M so greenlighting another chapter was not surprising, but audiences this weekend voted and said this was an unnecessary sequel. The three leads Jason Bateman, Jason Sudeikis, and Charlie Day all returned as did Jamie Foxx, Jennifer Aniston, and Kevin Spacey who reprised their colorful characters.
Reviews were mostly negative – not surprising for a comedy sequel. Warner Bros. was hoping to see the significant growth it saw between the first two Hangover comedies, but this was not the case. Bosses 2 also offered a storyline that was very similar to the first film – the three inept men resort to kidnapping instead of murder this time. R-rated films have never done well at Thanksgiving time when audiences tend to gravitate towards cheery, more wholesome fare. In fact, only two of the Top 20 Thanksgiving openings of all time were rated R. According to studio research, the audience for Horrible Bosses 2 was 51% male and 59% over 25 and the CinemaScore grade was a decent B+.
Suffering one of the worst drops among wide releases was another crude comedy sequel, Dumb and Dumber To, which fell 41% to an estimated $8.3M giving Universal $72.2M to date. Oscar hopeful The Theory of Everything expanded nationwide from 140 to 802 locations and grossed an estimated $5.1M for a solid $6,337 average. Focus has banked $9.6M to date and hopes to keep the run going as word-of-mouth spreads for the genius romance.
The durable hit Gone Girl followed with an estimated $2.5M, off 13%, for a new total of $160.8M for Fox. David Fincher’s latest has now spent nine weeks in the top ten, second only to Guardians of the Galaxy‘s ten among all 2014 releases this year. 2013 holdover Frozen spent 11 weeks in the top ten during this calendar year. Girl stands a great chance at extending its streak to ten next weekend with nothing big opening in the marketplace.
Indie hits rounded out the top ten. Fox Searchlight’s Birdman was even with last weekend taking in an estimated $1.9M for a new total of $17.2M. The Weinstein Co. saw St. Vincent slide 21% to an estimated $1.8M. Cume is $39.3M.
The Weinstein Co. also generated a sensational kickoff for the Oscar run of its promising contender The Imitation Game starring Benedict Cumberbatch with a platform debut of an estimated $482,000 from only four locations for an eye-popping $120,500 average. It was the second best opening weekend average of 2014 behind only the $202,792 of Wes Anderson’s The Grand Budapest Hotel back in March. Game was able to top the $106,099 of rival awards contender Birdman from last month.
With excellent reviews and Cumberbatch looking like a favorite in the Best Actor race, the World War II-set drama will slowly expand beyond New York and Los Angeles in the coming weeks with six new markets on December 12 and a nationwide roll-out at Christmas. Weinstein is using the same strategy it successfully executed four years ago for another British film, The King’s Speech, which also platformed over Thanksgiving weekend in four theaters averaging $88,863 before going national on Christmas weekend and using Oscar season to grow its North American total to a mammoth $135.5M.
Elsewhere below the top ten, Denzel Washington scored the fifth $100M+ domestic hit of his career with The Equalizer which passed the mark in its tenth weekend of release. The bankable double Oscar winner has starred in 14 films grossing over $75M domestic. None were sequels.
The top ten films grossed an estimated $152.5M which was down 20% from last Thanksgiving when The Hunger Games: Catching Fire stayed at number one with $74.2M; and down 23% from 2012’s holiday when The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 2 remained in the top spot with $43.6M.
To no surprise, the latest Katniss Everdeen flick The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 soared to the top of the box office scoring the best opening of the entire year and grossed an estimated $123M. But the Lionsgate film also generated the lowest opening weekend for the three-film series taking in 22% less than its predecessor Catching Fire‘s $158.1M from this very same weekend last year.
Mockingjay averaged a stellar $29,631 from 4,151 locations and easily outdistanced the $100M first weekend of June’s Transformers: Age of Extinction which until now had been the best debut of 2014. That film had 3D and IMAX versions which helped boost the grosses while Mockingjay had neither. IMAX screens were locked up this week by Interstellar and not available to the Panem sequel despite the first two Hunger Games movies having that format. But Mockingjay did have other premium large format screens available for those fans wishing to pay more. A scorching $12.6M worth of opening weekend sales for Fire came from its IMAX screens. Most of that crowd of die-hard fans probably still came out for the new pic this weekend and instead saw the conventional version, or went to other PLF screens so most of that business should have been salvaged. The loss of IMAX this time around may have shaved off $2M or so from this weekend’s figure.
The loss of the IMAX format does not explain the huge $35.1M drop in opening weekend sales from the last installment which launched in the same way at the same time. Reviews were a bit more harsh this time around. The content of the film featured less action, the visual style was replaced with a bland look because of the story, and there were no real Hunger Games involved. The book also had its share of detractors which may have led to less interest in the big-screen adaptation. Also many fans knew this was a clear attempt to charge twice to experience one book as a movie since Mockingjay Part 2 is on the calendar for this same weekend next year to close off the franchise. The Harry Potter and Twilight franchises did the same thing, although comparisons are difficult given the nature of their changes in summer and November release dates, as well as Wednesday and Friday launches.
Still, an opening weekend of this amount is sensational no matter what. It ranks as number 15 among all-time opening weekends and across the last year and a half, the two largest domestic debuts have both come from Hunger Games movies. Plus the production budget is roughly $125M with some costs shared across the two parts. So Mockingjay should no doubt be a profitable film as global box office has a shot at reaching $800M. However, the U.S. audience erosion should be concerning for both Lionsgate and the movie industry in general. This is the studio’s top franchise and it will want missing fans to come back for sure for the final film in the series next year which will promise more action. And if the wildly popular Katniss sees this type of audience decline, then no Hollywood brand is safe from young adults choosing to go out to the movies less frequently.
Mockingjay kicked off the weekend with $55.2M on Friday which included $17M from Thursday night pre-shows starting at 8pm. Saturday fell 26% to $40.8M and Lionsgate has projected a 33% slide Sunday to $27.1M. The Saturday decline was virtually the same as those of its two predecessors so it played out in similar fashion even though threequels often erode quicker after the opening day rush is over. The Sunday estimate is mostly in line with the 35% drop that is usually seen for these types of tentpole sequels in mid-November. If Mockingjay follows the same path as Fire did last year, it would not be guaranteed to beat out Guardians of the Galaxy as 2014’s highest grossing domestic blockbuster.
Fan fatigue can often explain why later installments in a film franchise open weaker. But it is actually very common for a third film in a franchise to open bigger than the first two films. Examples include Iron Man 3, The Dark Knight Rises, Spider-Man 3, Shrek the Third, X-Men: The Last Stand, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, The Bourne Ultimatum, Austin Powers in Goldmember, Batman Forever, and The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King. Fan excitement can keep crowds – and repeat business – going. The first Hunger had incredible legs while Fire played out moderately in successive weeks. Fan energy seems to have dimmed somewhat after the last movie and the studio will need to reignite the flame before November 20 next year when the second Mockingjay arrives.
As with so many of today’s Hollywood franchises, Hunger Games is offsetting domestic erosion with growth from international markets. Mockingjay was red hot in its overseas debut pulling in a stunning $152M from 85 markets for an eye-popping global launch of $275M. Top international bows were $19.9M in the U.K., $13.7M in Germany, $12.1M from Mexico, $11.1M in Russia, $10.5M in France, and $10.1M from Australia. Lionsgate reported that most key markets saw Mockingjay opening better than Catching Fire by 4% to 19%. China and Japan open next year.
Disney stayed put in second place with its hit toon Big Hero 6 which grossed an estimated $20.1M in its third weekend, off a reasonable 42%. The robotics experts have collected an impressive $135.7M domestically and look headed for a finish of roughly $200M. Competition will arrive on Wednesday when the DreamWorks Animation spin-off flick Penguins of Madagascar opens for the long and lucrative Thanksgiving session. Overseas, Big Hero 6 has grossed $49.5M so far from limited play (about 40% from animation-loving Russia) for a global tally of $185.2M so far. Most major markets will open this winter.
Christopher Nolan’s much-talked-about sci-fi epic Interstellar dropped a moderate 47% in its third round to an estimated $15.1M putting Paramount at $120.7M. With two more weeks without any new action films, the Matthew McConaughey film could make much more and end its North American run with roughly $160M. That would allow it to beat Neighbors to become the top-grossing film of 2014 not based on any pre-existing brand. With an incredible $70M from overseas markets this weekend, including an opening in Japan, Interstellar has boosted its offshore tally to $329M putting it at a towering $449.7M worldwide.
Last week’s box office leader Dumb and Dumber To stumbled 62% in its second weekend to an estimated $13.8M putting the comedy sequel in fourth. Universal has banked $57.5M to date and should end with around $85M or so. That would still be good enough to make it Jim Carrey’s top-grossing live-action movie since 2005’s Fun With Dick and Jane which did $110.3M.
The next few films were fall holdovers collecting small scraps. Fox’s hit film Gone Girl eased 38% to an estimated $2.8M giving the Ben Affleck thriller $156.8M to date. The leggy drama has spent a whopping eight weeks in the Top Five. Relativity’s romance Beyond the Lights fell 58% in its sophomore frame to an estimated $2.6M for a $10.1M cume. Final may inch up to about $15M.
The indie comedy hit St. Vincent followed with an estimated $2.4M, off 38%, for a $36.6M sum for The Weinstein Co. Brad Pitt’s Fury dropped 50% to an estimated $1.9M for Sony while Michael Keaton’s Oscar contender Birdman slipped 25% to an estimated $1.9M as well for Fox Searchlight. Cumes are $79.2M and $14.4M, respectively.
Another awards player jumped into the national top ten. Focus expanded The Theory of Everything from 41 to 140 locations and grossed an estimated $1.5M for a solid $10,714 average, with a cume to date of $2.8M. Instead of positioning it as just another biopic about one famous man, this one has been pushed as the love story of Stephen and Jane Hawking and upscale women have been responding. On Wednesday, Theory will expand nationwide into over 700 locations for the long holiday frame.
The acclaimed drama Foxcatcher starring Channing Tatum, Steve Carell, and Mark Ruffalo remained strong in limited play with an estimated $474,000 from 24 sites for a sturdy $19,750 average. Sony Classics will expand out to about 70 runs over the turkey frame in hopes that buzz will keep exciting more people in more markets.
The top ten films grossed an estimated $185M which was down 14% from last year when The Hunger Games: Catching Fire opened at number one with $158.1M; and down 7% from 2012 when The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 2 stayed in the top spot with $43.6M after falling 69% in its second weekend.