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‘Hunger Games: Mockingjay’ Takes Flight With $17 Million at Thursday Box Office

The film will likely score the biggest box office opening of the year

“Hunger Games: Mockingjay” landed $17 million at the box office on Thursday evening.

By comparison, “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire” earned $25.2 million from shows beginning at 8 p.m. on its Thursday debut and the midnight-only screening for “The Hunger Games” brought in $19.7 million.

Analysts expect the film to bring in nearly $150 million at the box office over the weekend. That haul will make it the highest debut of the year, topping the $100 million June debut of “Transformers: Age of Extinction.”

“Mockingjay” isn’t scoring as high with critics as previous installments of the franchise, earning a 69 percent fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes. The original “Hunger Games” scored an 84 percent fresh rating, while “Catching Fire” soared with a 89 percent fresh rating.

In “Mockingjay – Part 1,” Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence) prepares for battle alongside Gale (Liam Hemsworth) and the rest of the rebel force, led by President Coin (series newcomer Julianne Moore). Peeta (Josh Hutcherson) remains in the clutches of The Capitol. Woody Harrelson, Elizabeth Banks, Jeffrey Wright, Donald Sutherland and the late Philip Seymour Hoffman co-star.

Francis Lawrence, who came aboard to direct the well-reviewed “Catching Fire,” is back on “Mockingjay.” Michael Arndt and Simon Beaufoy adapted Suzanne Collins‘ final book in the bestselling trilogy. The producers are Nina Jacobson and John Kilick.