‘Mockingjay — Part 2’: Did Jennifer Lawrence simply outgrow the Katniss role?

23 Nov 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Analyzing Katniss Everdeen: Is She Really the Hero We Think She Is?.

The last “Hunger Games” movie, “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2,” arrived this past weekend, but it didn’t take off quite as high as previous installments. “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2,” which is the fourth and final installment in the series based on the books by Suzanne Collins, had the lowest opening weekend gross of any of the “Games” movies. “Mockingjay” placed first at the box office with a gross of $101 million but that’s $20 million less than the previous installment’s domestic opening weekend, the previous lowest opener of the series. “Mockingjay” stars Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, and Liam Hemsworth. One Wall Street observer suggests security concerns affected the end of the Katniss Everdeen saga, which opened to a franchise-low $101 million domestically, as deal chatter returns.Mockingjay — Part 2, the final Hunger Games film, soared to a $101 million (Dh370 million) opening in its first weekend in theatres, according to Rentrak estimates on Sunday.

Fans flock to the theaters for Mockingjay—Part 2 viewings for many reasons, whether it be a dose of adrenaline or a chance to ogle at the smoldering Gale Hawthorne. The bow ranks as the year’s fifth biggest opening, but it falls short of tracking that projected the picture would top $120 million in its initial weekend in theaters. The series, starring Jennifer Lawrence, kicked off with a bang in March 2012 with a massive $152.5 million weekend — one of the highest openings of all time. Lionsgate analysts weighed in Monday, with Evercore analyst David Joyce citing short-term security concerns in the wake of the Paris attacks as grounds for the initial box office shortfall. “We would not yet extrapolate this past weekend’s light moviegoing attendance out to our full theatrical release estimates. We think a better retention ratio for the second weekend is possible — the Thanksgiving weekend in the U.S. — as there seems to be less theatrical competition even for the next month, up until Disney’s Star Wars release,” Joyce wrote in a note Monday.

The new movies “The Night Before” (a comedy starring Seth Rogen, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, and Anthony Mackie) and the drama “The Secret in Their Eyes” (it stars Julia Roberts, Nicole Kidman, and Chiwetel Ejiofor) opened in fourth and fifth, respectively. “Night” grossed more than $10 million and “Secret” took in more than $6 million. Stifel Nicolaus analyst Ben Mogil reduced his own estimates on Lionsgate’s three-year guidance, if only to the lower end, after opening-weekend box-office results fell short. “We believe that M&A expectations, with Starz able to enter into a tax inversion starting early next year, as somewhat offsetting the valuation pressure,” Mogil said. For its part, the studio was put in the odd position of almost having to defend a debut that ranks among the largest in movie history. “It’s a phenomenal opening and we launched these movies at this time consciously knowing there’d be a lucrative long run way through the holidays,” said David Spitz, Lionsgate’s domestic distribution chief.

He was referring to persistent speculation that Lionsgate and Starz might merge after John Malone and two of his major assets, Liberty Global and Discovery Communications, bought into the studio. But the issue at hand today isn’t her well-documented (and well-deserved) admiration—it’s whether she’s really the Hero-with-a-capitol-H we’ve been painting her as. But rather, since this beloved series is now wrapped up for good, we’ve found ourselves at a crossroads where the only thing left to do is look back on the saga and ask the hard questions. Matthew Harrigan, an analyst at Wunderlich Securities, said Monday that the $247 million opening for the fourth Hunger Games installment was “not exactly dystopian,” but argued new movies in the Lionsgate pipeline were key to feeding the bottom line going forward.

A Hunger Games prequel has been muted, and the studio is already licensing its film properties to new theme parks being built around the Hunger Games and Divergent film franchises near Macau and Atlanta, Ga. to generate new revenue. Just look at her in any poster or movie still: She has the sleek costume, the signature weapon, and even that infamous superhero stance (feet wide, arms down, face stony).

Wunderlich’s Harrigan predicted releases in 2016 for Divergent and Now You See Me sequels “could plausibly each generate $100 million in profit,” even as a question mark continues to hang over a third big release next year, the fantasy adventure Gods of Egypt. “Lionsgate has only $10-15 million of production cost exposure with strong foreign presales and a 46 percent Aussie tax benefit. With this weekend down 11 per cent from last year, it remains to be seen whether 2015 will indeed be a record-breaking $11-billion year as many predicted at the outset. Morgan analyst Alexia Quadrani in an investor note Monday said the recent weakness in Lionsgate’s share price was “overdone,” and that a buying opportunity was at hand: “Lionsgate is immune from many of the challenges in the current media landscape including concerns around shifts out of television advertising and the fraying of the traditional cable bundle.” Ticket sales were down roughly 10% for the weekend, down from the year-ago period that fielded Mockingjay — Part 1’s $121.9 million opening. “The overall marketplace is slow,” said Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst at Rentrak. “There are too many movies, too many distractions, and so much going on in the world right now.”

For starters, she has a team of people—or who we might goodhearted-ly call pushers—coaxing her along at every step and all but forcing her into the position of savior. No spoilers here, but fans will understand why we find it valid to mention that her vengeful actions towards President Coin don’t quite jive with the rhetoric of humanity and rational thinking she’s always preaching. In addition, some critics complained that the installment before this one, “Mockingjay – Part 1,” was marking time until this new movie. (One book, “Mockingjay,” was split into two movies.) Perhaps the slowing pace of the story, as the events of one book were split into two films, meant the movies went off audiences’ radar. All of this stands to remind us of the decidedly non-heroic and selfish, yet totally justified reason she got into the business of dictator overthrowing in the first place: She just wanted to save her mom and her sister.

But, unlike other characters who might be thrust into her position, she has conviction and compassion, and in the post-apocalyptic world—and today’s world, for that matter—those might be the two best things a person can be. We don’t see her struggling to function in a world where she’s not saving others, and we’re not watching her march back into the darkness, destined to sacrifice to a life of turmoil for others’ freedom and safety. Instead, she finds her peace from a (relatively) conflict-free world, picking flowers with her little family, in the same way most of us would find peace.

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