'Mockingjay' disarms 'Penguins' to retain top spot at U.S. box office

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[December 01, 2014]  By Ronald Grover and Chris Michaud

LOS ANGELES/NEW YORK (Reuters) - "The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 1," the third film in the dystopian action series starring Jennifer Lawrence, collected $56.9 million to hold off advances by animated films "Penguins of Madagascar" and "Big Hero 6" and claim victory at the U.S. holiday weekend box office.

"Penguins of Madagascar," the fourth in the series of "Madagascar" films, waddled into second place on its opening weekend with $25.8 million at U.S. and Canadian theaters for the three days ending on Sunday, according to tracking firm Rentrak.

Walt Disney's "Big Hero 6," the box office champion three weeks ago, was third with $18.8 million in ticket sales. The film has generated $167 million since its Nov. 7 release.

"Mockingjay," which stars Lawrence as young archer Katniss Everdeen who leads a rebellion, recorded $82.7 million over the five-day Thanksgiving Day weekend and has generated more than $225 million since opening on Nov. 21, according to Rentrak.

The film, which scored the third-highest total ever for a five-day Thanksgiving weekend, has raked in $254 million outside the United States and Canada, for a global take of $480 million.

"Penguins" added another $36 million from overseas box offices for a global total of $72 million, according to distributor 20th Century Fox. The family film saw 58 percent of its audience under age 25 amid what the studio called a soft Thanksgiving marketplace overall.

The Thanksgiving box office haul of $230 million for Wednesday through Sunday fell far short of the record-setting figures a year ago, when moviegoers flocked to theaters for films including the second "Hunger Games" installment, spending $293.7 million on all releases combined.

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Rounding out the weekend's top five, director Christopher Nolan's space adventure Interstellar starring Matthew McConaughey took in $15.8 million boosted by premium-priced IMAX screenings, while the new Jason Bateman-Jennifer Aniston film "Horrible Bosses 2" was fifth with $15.7 million.

"The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 1" was distributed by Lionsgate. 20th Century Fox, the unit of 21st Century Fox, released the Dreamworks production "Penguins of Madagascar." Warner Brothers, a unit of Time Warner, distributed "Horrible Bosses 2." "Interstellar" was released by Paramount Pictures, a unit of Viacom.

(Reporting By Ronald Grover and Chris Michaud; Editing by Rosalind Russell)

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