LOS ANGELES — After three weeks of box office dominance, “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1” ceded its reign to “Exodus: Gods and Kings.” The biblical epic easily ruled the weekend with a $24.5 million debut, according to box office tracker Rentrak, while “The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies” dominated international charts with a staggering $117.6 million in advance of this week’s North America release.

“The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1” came in second, earning $13.2 million.

With a $140 million production budget, “Exodus: Gods and Kings” met expectations in its first weekend, but failed to live up to the precedent set by other recent biblical films.

“I think Hollywood is learning that putting epic, biblical stories on the big screen comes at a pretty heavy price. It’s not easy to do this,” said Rentrak senior media analyst Paul Dergarabedian.

Opening crowds for the Fox film were divided fairly evenly down gender lines, but they skewed older with 65 percent over the age of 25.

“It’s a very diverse audience,” said Chris Aronson of Fox, noting 20 percent were African-American and 18 percent Hispanic.

Also new in theaters, “Top Five,” from writer, director and star Chris Rock, opened strongly. The Paramount comedy took the fourth-place spot behind “Penguins of Madagascar.”

“For me, the hot spots are in the indie world,” said Dergarabedian, noting the impressive debut for “Inherent Vice,” and the stunning growth of “The Imitation Game,” “Birdman” and “Wild.”