Box Office: Catching Fire Breaks Records, Torches Competiton Over Weekend

It looks as if I was a little off with my personal estimates of how well The Hunger Games: Catching Fire would do its opening weekend. I wasn’t off in a Dumb & Dumber-Samsonite type of way, but I was surprised that the sequel in Suzanne Collins’ bestselling trilogy didn’t make $170 million. Though, I’m sure the suits at Lionsgate are happy with $161.1 million for a three-day opening in November. With a reported budget of $130 million, which is almost double what it cost to make The Hunger Games, expectations of the sequel have already been met. Domestic budget has been matched, plus the sequel had a PTA of $38,704. That’s fourth all-time behind The Avengers, Hannah Montana/Miley Cyrus: Best of Both Worlds and Iron Man 3. (Yes, in between The Avengers and Iron Man 3 is really a Hannah Montana concert movie. Catching Fire‘s opening was enough to make it the fourth-largest opening weekend all time, behind the already-mentioned Marvel properties plus the grand finale of the Harry Potter franchise. Not bad company at all.

For star and recent Oscar winner Jennifer Lawrence, the success of Catching Fire means she has had four films exceed earnings of $100 million or more since 2011. The two installments of The Hunger Games thus far have made a combined $569.1 million domestically. Forget Twilight numbers, that right there is nearing Harry Potter territory. And I don’t think it will be slowing down this Thanksgiving Weekend. It’ll have to contend with Disney’s Frozen and Spike Lee’s Oldboy remake, the latter of which isn’t being screened for critics (at least in my Houston region) prior to its release.

As expected, anything toplining the box office in the previous week was likely to fall with the arrival of Catching Fire. Thor’s hammer was no match for Katniss’ arrow (if this were a game of Paper Rock Scissors Hammer Arrows, just know that Arrow beats Hammer). Thor: The Dark World made $14.1 million in its third weekend. It was followed by The Best Man Holiday with $12.5 million. In two weeks Malcolm D. Lee’s 14-year-old sequel to The Best Man has a running total of $50.4 million. Universal is already clamoring for a sequel. Methinks it won’t take 14 years to happen.

The other newcomer of the top ten, which had the misfortune to open opposite Catching Fire, was Vince Vaughn’s Delivery Man. With $8.2 million it continues Vince Vaughn’s law of box office diminishing returns following The Internship ($17.3 million) and The Watch ($12.7 million).

Until Frozen opens in theaters parents’ only solace for kid-friendly entertainment is Free Birds. The Thanksgiving tale finished in fifth position with $5.3 million. Last Vegas trailed behind in sixth with $4.4 million and in the processes crossed the $50 million mark. Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa may have finished below the Las Vegas-set geriatric tale, but Johnny Knoxville and company may have the last laugh as this Jackass spin-off of sorts is closing in on $100 million. In eighth spot is Gravity with $3.3 million.

Rounding out the top 10 are two films that look to get notice in the “Race to the Oscars.” Steve McQueen’s 12 Years a Slave added 63 theaters to bump its theater count to 1,474. It made $2.8 million to bring its total close to $30 million. Finally, Dallas Buyers Club has its first weekend in the top ten as it expands to 666 theaters and made $2.7 million.

In an equilibrium eighth spot in eighth week, “Gravity” made $3.3 million. In ninth, “12 Years A Slave” expanded to 1,474 theaters (up by 63) and made $2.8 million. In its first weekend in the top ten, “Dallas Buyers Club” expanded to 666 theaters (up by 482) and made $2.7 million.

Weekend Box Office: November 22 – 24, 2013

1. The Hunger Games: Catching Fire (Lionsgate) – $161,125,000

2. Thor: The Dark World (Buena Vista) – $14,117,000 ($167,837,000)

3. The Best Man Holiday (Universal) – $12,522,000 ($50,391,000)

4. Delivery Man (Buena Vista) – $8,125,000

5. Free Birds (Relativity Media) – $5,300,000 ($48,594,000)

6. Last Vegas (CBS Films) – $4,400,000 ($53,926,000)

7. Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa (Paramount) – $3,450,000 ($95,451,000)

8. Gravity (Warner Bros.) – $3,305,000 ($245,503,000)

9. 12 Years a Slave (Fox Searchlight) – $2,800,000 ($29,293,000)

10. Dallas Buyers Club (Focus Features) – $2,770,000 ($6,450,000)

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