"THE HUNGER GAMES: Mockingjay - Part 1" continues to dominate the domestic box office, but awards-season hopefuls "Wild" and "The Imitation Game" proved their might with impressive limited-release showings on this sleepy post-Thanksgiving weekend.

In its third weekend in release, "Mockingjay - Part 1" earned an estimated $21.6 million. The penultimate chapter in the massively successful franchise has now earned $257.7 million domestically, according to studio estimates yesterday.

And yet, even though "Mockingjay - Part 1" is on track to become the second-highest grossing movie of the year by midweek, it's still about $78 million shy of where the previous installment, "Catching Fire," was in its third weekend just last year.

For Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst for box-office tracker Rentrak, this deficit is only concerning for the overall box office, which is down 4.6 percent for the year. "We are nearing the finish line for 2014 and that is a lot of ground to make up, but luckily we have some big movies on the way," he says of "Into the Woods," "Exodus: Gods and Kings," "Annie," "Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb" and "Unbroken."

"Penguins of Madagascar" took second place with $11.1 million in its second weekend, while the raunchy comedy "Horrible Bosses 2" claimed third place with $8.6 million. The fourth and fifth place spots went to the animated "Big Hero 6" and the space odyssey "Interstellar," which earned $8.13 million and $8.0 million, respectively.

"It's one of those status-quo, boring weekends," Dergarabedian said. "But it's not boring in the specialized or indie world. For me, that's where the excitement is."

"Wild," starring Reese Witherspoon, opened in 21 theaters Wednesday, earning an estimated $630,000 over three days for a strong $30,000-per-theater average. The biggest success story of the weekend is the Alan Turing biopic "The Imitation Game," which took in an estimated $402,000 from eight locations for a stunning $50,250-per-theater average. Star Benedict Cumberbatch is also expected to be a major contender on the awards circuit this season.

As Dergarabedian puts it: "People wanted to see what the fuss was about and went out in pretty big numbers."

Harry Christmas

Ellen DeGeneres has her 12 Days of Giveaways on her syndicated talk show, and now J.K. Rowling has 12 giveaways with a Harry Potter twist.

According to the Palm Beach Post, monitoring Rowling's "Pottermore" fan site, Rowling is releasing a dozen Potter short stories in celebration of the 12 days of Christmas.

All you have to do to access the stories is "answer our rhyming riddles to unwrap a #PottermoreChristmas surprise every day."

The Post says that the 12 stories will focus on Harry's nemesis Draco Malfoy. The stories will post online starting at 8 a.m. Friday and release every day after that.

As for Jenice's Favorite Things, see the coupon on Page 27.

TATTBITS

* Crews cleaned up Bill Cosby's star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame after it was vandalized by graffiti on Friday.

(Note to Cosby: It's probably going to take more than a mop and some bleach to clean up your star.)

Houston television station Fox 26 posted a photo it said it received from a viewer on Thursday with the word "Rapist" scrawled three times on Cosby's star. Cosby's star was placed on the Walk of Fame in 1977.

The Hollywood Chamber of Commerce wrote in a statement that it hoped people upset with Cosby would find different ways to express themselves than vandalism.

Just out of curiosity, what would be a more fitting protest?

* The naughty kids in "Matilda the Musical" have one reason to smile: Their show paid back its $16 million Broadway investment.

Producers said Friday that the New York version had become profitable following last week's $1.4 million box office. The show opened in April 2013 and has run close to 700 performances.

Wow, if it takes 700 performances on Broadway to break even, you know what's a better investment?

Newspapers.

- Daily News wire services

contributed to this report.

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