LOS ANGELES, Calif. - The "Hunger Games" finale spoiled an early Christmas for the holiday horror comedy "Krampus" to maintain its top spot at the North American box office for the third week running.
The Jennifer Lawrence-led film took in an estimated $18.6 million in the U.S. and Canada, bringing its domestic total to $227 million, according to Rentrak estimates Sunday.
The anti-Santa Claus thriller from Universal, the only film to debut in the top 10 this week, brought in $16 million.
The normally slow weekend following Thanksgiving was up 26 per cent from a year ago thanks to the fresh fodder from Universal, which slipped in between the release of two huge franchise movies— "The Hunger Games: Mockingjay — Part 2," and "Star Wars: Episode VII — The Force Awakens," which is due out Dec. 18.
"Even though it's horror at its base, you needed to have enough time for the film to open and lead up to Christmas," said Nicholas Carpou, Universal Pictures' president of domestic distribution. "Being the only wide commercial release on this date really did wonders for this film."
Modestly budgeted for under $15 million, "Krampus" is likely to add to the profits of what has been a record year for Universal following the release of movies like "Jurassic World," ''Furious 7," and "Minions."
Meanwhile, the final movie installment for bow-wielding Katniss pushed past $500 million worldwide, another hit for Lionsgate, which has staked its claim on the young adult market. It hopes to keep rolling with its franchise film strategy with "Allegiant," the third film in the "Divergent" series due out in March.
"Creed," the boxing film where Sylvester Stallone reprises his role as Rocky Balboa, came third, and the Disney/Pixar animated tale "The Good Dinosaur" came fourth. Each had around $15.5 million in ticket sales.
Overall ticket sales are running 4 per cent ahead of last year and are on track to top $11 billion in the U.S. and Canada for the first time, said Rentrak's senior media analyst Paul Dergarabedian.
Dergarabedian says it remains to be seen whether the global excitement around J.J. Abrams' "Star Wars" will drown out a bevy of other options coming out later this year. That ranges from director Alejandro Inarritu's "The Revenant" to the Amy Poehler and Tina Fey-led comedy, "Sisters," which has knowingly marketed its film with a "Star Wars" parody trailer and the hashtag #youcanseethemboth.
Among other films competing for attention in the coming weeks are: "Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Road Chip," the Will Smith-led football movie "Concussion," and "Joy," an underdog tale that reunites stars Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper with "American Hustle" director David O. Russell.
"Hopefully the rising tide of 'Star Wars' will raise all movies," Dergarabedian said.
Estimated ticket sales for Friday through Sunday at U.S. and Canadian theatres, according to Rentrak. Where available, the latest international numbers for Friday through Sunday are also included. Final domestic figures will be released Monday.
1. "The Hunger Games: Mockingjay — Part 2," $18.6 million.
2. "Krampus," $16.0 million.
3. "Creed," $15.5 million.
4. "The Good Dinosaur," $15.5 million.
5. "Spectre," $5.4 million.
6. "The Night Before," $4.9 million.
7. "The Peanuts Movie," $3.5 million.
8. "Spotlight," $2.9 million.
9. "Brooklyn," $2.4 million.
10. "Secret In Their Eyes," $2.0 million.
Universal and Focus are owned by NBC Universal, a unit of Comcast Corp.; Sony, Columbia, Sony Screen Gems and Sony Pictures Classics are units of Sony Corp.; Paramount is owned by Viacom Inc.; Disney, Pixar and Marvel are owned by The Walt Disney Co.; Miramax is owned by Filmyard Holdings LLC; 20th Century Fox and Fox Searchlight are owned by 21st Century Fox; Warner Bros. and New Line are units of Time Warner Inc.; MGM is owned by a group of former creditors including Highland Capital, Anchorage Advisors and Carl Icahn; Lionsgate is owned by Lions Gate Entertainment Corp.; IFC is owned by AMC Networks Inc.; Rogue is owned by Relativity Media LLC.
Follow AP Business Writer Ryan Nakashima at https://twitter.com/rnakashi