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‘Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2’ Crushes Competition With $16 Million at Thursday Box Office

This weekend’s other newcomers are Julia Roberts’ ”Secret in Their Eyes“ and Seth Rogen’s ”The Night Before“

“The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2” dominated the North American box office on Thursday night with $16 million, which puts it on the right track for a $125 million opening weekend.

It beat this weekend’s other newcomers by miles. The Julia Roberts‘ thriller “Secret in Their Eyes” only made $170,000 from 1470 locations. Sony has yet to reveal the Thursday gross for R-rated Seth Rogen comedy “The Night Before,” but the raunchy Christmas movie co-starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Anthony Mackie is expected to make $15 million over the weekend.

Jennifer Lawrence returns with co-stars Josh Hutcherson and Liam Hemsworth, as do Woody Harrelson, Elizabeth Banks, Donald Sutherland and Stanley Tucci for director Francis Lawrence. The “Hunger Games” movies have been well-reviewed and the finale is no exception with a 72 percent approval rating from critics counted on Rotten Tomatoes.

So far, the film has made $43 million worldwide and is No. 1 in 66 of 68 markets with 19 more territories, including China and Mexico, opening Friday.

The final entry in Lionsgate’s blockbuster young adult franchise had a budget of $150 million to $160 million, more than the previous movies. The first film in the franchise had a production budget of $78 million.

Starting with “the Hunger Games” in 2012 and continuing with 2013’s “Catching Fire” and last year’s “Mockingjay – Part 1,” the series has grossed more than $2.3 billion worldwide.

“The Hunger Games” set records for the opening day ($67 million) and the biggest opening weekend ($152 million) for a non-sequel film. “Catching Fire” set the record for biggest opening weekend in the month of November ($158 million), and “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1” had the largest opening day of 2014 ($55 million). When “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2” closed out that franchise in 2010 it enjoyed a huge boost over its most immediate predecessor, but that won’t happen with “Mockingjay – Part 2.”

Lionsgate split the last novel of Suzanne Collins‘ trilogy of the same name into two films. The first “Mockingjay” opened to nearly $122 million and was the lowest-grossing of the trio domestically at $336 million, but the second-highest globally at $755 million. “Twilight: Breaking Dawn – Part 2,” like “The Hunger Games,” a teen girl-powered blockbuster franchise for Lionsgate, followed a similar domestic-down, foreign-up pattern in 2011.

“The Night Before,” which follows three friends on their last time going out on Christmas Eve, has good reviews — 67 percent on Rotten Tomatoes, and is the first effort for Point Grey Pictures’ Evan Goldberg and Rogen since “The Interview,” which set off the Sony hacking scandal.

“Secret in Their Eyes,” costarring Chiwetel Ejiofor and Nicole Kidman,  hasn’t been so lucky with critics — it currently has a 40 percent approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes. With a production budget of $19 million, the crime thriller is expected to make only $7-$9 million this weekend after screening in 2,392 locations.