By Brent Lang
LOS ANGELES (Variety.com) - Wake Hollywood up when "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" arrives.
With two weeks to go before Luke, Leia, Han, and a phalanx of storm troopers and droids descend on multiplexes, "The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 2" topped box office charts in an otherwise quiet weekend. The science-fiction sequel earned $18.6 million, pushing its stateside haul to $ $227.1 million.
The weekend after Thanksgiving is historically one of the slowest of the year and the 2015 edition didn't break with tradition. Studios largely steered clear of offering up new releases, with the one major exception being "Krampus," a darkly comic horror film from Legendary and Universal that picked up a solid $16 million. The story of a horned demon who injects a sinister edge into a Suburban family's Christmas celebrations stars Adam Scott and Toni Collette. It was directed by Michael Dougherty ("Trick 'r Treat").
Without much in the way of new blood, a trio of holdovers rounded out the top five. "Creed" rode Oscar buzz and strong word-of-mouth to a third place finish, racking up $15.5 million to drive the "Rocky" spin-off's domestic total to $65.1 million. "The Good Dinosaur" finished in fourth with $15.5 million, dropping off more than expected and falling roughly 60%. Usually Pixar and Disney films have better holds. The animated film has earned $75.9 million so far. And "Spectre" took fifth position with $5.4 million. The latest James Bond adventure has earned $184.5 million.
In a failed bid for the faith-based crowd, Freestyle Releasing offered up "The Letters," a look at the life of Mother Teresa, in 886 theaters, where it grossed an uninspiring $802,000.
In limited release, the Weinstein Company opened "MacBeth" in five theaters, where the film adaptation of the "Scottish Play" earned a lackluster $67,868, for a per-screen average of $13,573.
Fox Searchlight's "Youth" fared slightly better, nabbing 80,000 from four theaters for a per-location average of $20,000. The picture centers on an aging composer (Michael Caine) at a spa and is directed by "The Great Beauty" Oscar-winner Paolo Sorrentino.
Amazon launched its first theatrical release with Spike Lee's "Chi-Raq," a look at gun violence that debuted as Chicago grapples with mounting outrage over a police shooting of Laquan McDonald. It earned $1.2 million over 305 screens and is being distributed by Roadside Attractions. Chicago audiences were more receptive, handing the picture a $15,000-plus per-screen average on 22 screens.
"The numbers out of Chicago are phenomenal," said Bob Berney, Amazon Studios' marketing and distribution head. "All of this is a testament to the support of the local Chicago community and, across the board, the urgency of the situation. 'Chi-Raq' has been recognized as a call to action to stop the violence plaguing cities across the country, not only Chicago."