Welcome to the Screen Rant Box Office Prediction. Every week we put together an informal list of box office picks for the upcoming weekend - to offer readers a rough estimate of how new releases (and returning holdovers) will perform in theaters.
For a recap of last week's box office totals, read our box office wrap-up from The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 1's opening weekend - and scroll to the bottom of this post to see how our previous picks measured up.
Full disclosure: Box office predictions are not an exact science. We acknowledge that our picks may not always be correct. For the sake of offering a jumping off point for discussion, here are our picks for the weekend of November 28 - 30, 2014.
This weekend, comedy sequel Horrible Bosses 2 opens in over 3,300 theaters and animated spinoff The Penguins of Madagascar hits 3,600 theaters. In limited release, The Imitation Game will play on four screens.
#1 - The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 1
Look for last week's champ, The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 1 (read our review) to repeat in the top spot during its second week. The penultimate chapter in the Hunger Games film franchise sported the highest opening of the year with $121.8 million domestically. That is nothing to sneeze at, but it is a significant decrease from the marks the first two installments achieved (Catching Fire made $158 million opening weekend last year). Obviously, the series is still popular with moviegoers, but the third film in the series received a softer critical reception than its predecessors and the idea of having the final chapter split into two movies may have rubbed some the wrong way. Those reasons may have contributed to the lower opening.
That said, Mockingjay is still in great shape. It's true that most "event" films like this see a large decrease after opening weekend, but since the film made so much during those first three days, it would have to take quite a fall to be knocked off its perch. Neither or this week's new releases are projected to post huge numbers and even though Mockingjay doesn't have the strongest word-of-mouth, it'll hold very well.
#2 - The Penguins of Madagascar
Coming in second should be The Penguins of Madagascar, which is a spinoff of DreamWorks' popular Madagascar animated film series. The brand has proved to be extremely profitable over the years, with 2012's Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted raking in $216.3 million domestically (a franchise high). A big part of the brand's appeal has been the comical penguin characters, who, much like the Despicable Me minions, have acquired a following that transcends the original property.
The decision to put the tuxedoed birds front and center looks like it will pay off. Tracking indicates an opening weekend of $37 million, which would be way below the standard opening for this series, but it's still respectable. After the success of Big Hero 6, the demand for new family program may not be as high, but kids home on Thanksgiving break will want to see something, and this fresh option could do the trick.
#3 - Horrible Bosses 2
Our pick for third place is Horrible Bosses 2. The 2011 original became a breakout comedy hit for Warner Bros., taking in $117.5 million domestically during its theatrical run. Thanks to its humorous concept and all-star cast, it found traction with moviegoers. Not to mention, the overall positive reviews it got didn't hurt either.
For the sequel, the filmmakers added on to the high-profile ensemble, with Chris Pine and Christoph Waltz joining the ranks of Jason Sudeikis, Jennifer Anniston, Charlie Day, and Jason Bateman. As such, tracking projects a $28 million opening weekend, which is nearly identical to how the first film debuted. Pine, Waltz, and the new kidnapping plot should keep things fresh for audiences, but the film is receiving a mostly negative reception in the early going, which may hurt its box office performance. Still, after Dumb and Dumber 2 fell off, comedy fans may opt for a sequel to a more recent movie.
#4 - Interstellar
Our pick for fourth is Interstellar (read our review). After posting another $15.3 million last weekend, Christopher Nolan's latest has made $120.9 million domestically total. It won't reach the heights of Inception when it's all said and done, but Interstellar has still made itself a commercial success. Its time in the top five may be coming to a close, but the star power of Nolan, Matthew McConaughey, and the theatrical experience of going to space will keep it hanging around for at least another week.
#5 - Big Hero 6
Rounding out the top five should be Big Hero 6 (read our review). Making $20.1 million last week, Disney's animated hit came in second. So why the prediction for the drastic drop? The presence of Penguins of Madagascar should take away a chunk of business from the Marvel/Disney movie, which will cause it to fall down the charts. Given how it's emerged as a popular choice for families and the critical acclaim it's garnered, there are those who will opt for Big Hero 6 still, but those numbers should start dwindling now.
Benedict Cumberbatch has cemented his place on Hollywood's A-list with turns in popular geek-friendly properties like Sherlock, Star Trek Into Darkness, and The Hobbit, but the fan-favorite Brit's latest won't reach the box office prowess of those titles. Like so many other "prestige" pictures this year, The Imitation Game is playing in a limited release this weekend (four theaters). If it ever expands wide, it should emerge as a solid counter-programming option since it's being touted as a Best Picture candidate, but until then, the Oscar buzz is all it has.
Last Week's Recap
After nailing the first two in our predictions, things got a bit messier in the last three spots. Interstellar and Dumb and Dumber To got switched around in the actuals, with the poor reception for the latter being attributed for its big drop after opening in first place. Also, David Fincher's Gone Girl managed to eclipse our fifth place pick, Beyond the Lights, continuing its impressive run through eight weeks.
That's it for this week's breakdown. Make sure to check back later this week for the official box office results!
Agree or disagree with our predictions? Which five films do you think will top the box office this weekend? Share your own picks in the comments section below!
Next Week: The Pyramid, Horrible Bosses 2, The Penguins of Madagascar and more!
Follow Chris on Twitter @ChrisAgar90