If Katniss Everdeen aims her arrow just right, The Hunger Games could become the first film franchise in Hollywood history to have three installments open to $150 million or more in North America, not accounting for inflation.
Based on prerelease tracking, most box-office observers believe The Hunger Games: Mockingjay — Part 1 will open to at least $150 million this weekend, although Lionsgate is being more cautious, suggesting a range of $130 million-$150 million.
Without a doubt, Mockingjay will score the top opening of the year so far in a much-needed boost for the domestic box office as the year-end holidays get underway, easily eclipsing the $100 million debut of Transformers: Age of Extinction this summer.
Moreover, it will be the biggest three-day opening since The Hunger Games: Catching Fire launched to $158.1 million the same weekend a year ago.
The first installment, The Hunger Games, debuted to $152.5 million in March 2013, catapulting Jennifer Lawrence to stardom and shattering records.
Catching Fire director Francis Lawrence reprises his duties for Mockingjay, which again stars Lawrence opposite Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth, Woody Harrelson, Elizabeth Banks, Stanley Tucci, Jena Malone and the late Philip Seymour Hoffman, and introduces Julianne Moore and Natalie Dormer to the series based on Suzanne Collins' blockbuster YA book series.
Lionsgate decided to split Collins' final book into two films. Director Lawrence shot them back-to-back at a reported cost of $250 million. Mockingjay — Part 2 is set to open Nov. 20, 2015.
The franchise is also a huge performer overseas. Catching Fire took in $864.6 million worldwide last year, including $439.9 million internationally and $424.7 million in North America. Mockingjay — Part 1 opens in most major foreign markets this weekend, although it won't be released in China until next year.Are you going to see Mockingjay Part 1 this weekend?