Lionsgate’s film franchise based on Suzanne Collins’ young adult novel series, The Hunger Games, wrapped up at the end of 2015, with the release of The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2. Though it seemed the series had ended, the film studio has discussed the possibility of continuing with new installments, perhaps in the form of prequels. Despite largely positive reviews for the concluding chapter in the existing series, the film debuted to the smallest opening weekend box office of the franchise.
In addition to the lackluster opening weekend box office, Mockingjay – Part 2 has largely underperformed throughout its entire run in theaters, earning little more than $652 million worldwide. Now, Lionsgate executives are pointing to other factors impacting the box office of Mockingjay – Part 2, including terrorism and the premiere of Star Wars: The Force Awakens in mid-December.
Deadline reports that during an earnings call, Lionsgate co-chairman of the Motion Picture Group Rob Friedman claimed Star Wars’ record-breaking box office numbers and the November terrorist attacks in Paris had a specific effect on the lackluster performance of Mockingjay – Part 2:
“I think the combination of circumstances was unique between the terrorist attack in Europe and Star Wars… hit our numbers by somewhere between $50M and $100M.”
Although the opening weekend of Mockingjay – Part 2, which hauled $101 million, was the lowest of the franchise, each of The Hunger Games films opened with more than $100 million, with Mockingjay – Part 1 taking in $121.9 million in 2014, Catching Fire with $158 million in 2013, and The Hunger Games with $152 million in 2012.
However, The Force Awakens has set a number of records in its time in theaters, including having the biggest opening weekend box office with $247 million. Additional milestones include making $900 million domestically as well as grossing $2 billion at the worldwide box office – and becoming only the third movie to do so.
Certainly, as we saw with CBS’s decision to change the order of episodes early on in the first season of Supergirl, real world events can have an effect on Hollywood. The attack in Paris occurred a week after Mockingjay – Part 2 opened in Europe and one week before the film debuted in the U.S. Additionally, given rising movie ticket prices, there may be something to be said about viewers having to choose between seeing Mockingjay – Part 2 and Star Wars, with many opting for the latter.
That being said, though, The Hunger Games series saw a marked decrease in its opening weekend numbers starting with Mockingjay – Part 1 that seemingly continued with Part 2. This may be more of an indicator toward audience fatigue of the series, or YA adaptations as a whole, rather than the fault of Star Wars’ massive commercial success.
Additionally, if Lionsgate does extend the Hunger Games franchise with prequels or spinoffs, it’s unlikely another installment would face the same unique circumstances that Mockingjay – Part 2 saw. But, if the studio were to release another feature based on The Hunger Games in the coming years, they would have a number of upcoming installments of the Star Wars series to contend with since Disney has movies planned through 2020.
The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2 will be available on DVD and Blu-ray March 22nd, 2016.
Star Wars: Episode 7 – The Force Awakens is now in theaters, and will be followed by Rogue One: A Star Wars Story on December 16th, 2016, Star Wars: Episode 8 on December 15th, 2017, and the Han Solo Star Wars Anthology film on May 25th, 2018. Star Wars: Episode 9 is expected to reach theaters in 2019, followed by the third Star Wars Anthology film in 2020.