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'Catching Fire' Dominates But Not Record-Breaker, 'Frozen' Massive in LA Exclusive, 'Philomena' Decent in Limited

Box Office
by Tom Brueggemann
November 23, 2013 4:38 PM
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'The Hunger Games: Catching Fire'
'The Hunger Games: Catching Fire'

Many harbored hopes that "The Hunger Games: Catching Fire," the second film in the Jennifer Lawrence-starring young adult series, could possibly deliver the biggest domestic release of 2013. But the movie grossed $70 million from Thursday 8 pm through Friday, and should double that gross for the entire weekend. That's a massive number, but less than anticipated. "The Hunger Games" in March, 2012 did $155 million for its opening (with initial shows starting at midnight, not earlier, reducing the night-before take), and this might not equal the also not 3-D-enhanced $141 million total of "Twilight - Breaking Dawn Part II" last November.


This is quibbling (so much box office reporting focuses on breaking records). "Catching Fire" is likely to wind up bigger worldwide than the first entry, and the question is only what degree of "huge" it will be. More significant, if the total weekend figure does fall short, is a further confirmation of a months-long trend. Core young viewers are not trooping off to theaters in as large numbers as usual. A minor shortfall for this film would tell the studios that they can no longer rely on their largest constituency to automatically turn out for tentpole films in the numbers previously seen.

The other new film, "The Delivery Man" (Buena Vista) only managed to reach #4 for the day, with the badly-reviewed Vince Vaughn-starring comedy only taking in $2,758,000 and likely to fall far short of $10 million for the weekend. This Dreamworks production comes exactly a year after the enormous success of "Lincoln." Their other 2013 film "The Fifth Estate" also flopped, with the two Spielberg films ("Lincoln" and "War Horse") and "The Help" remaining the standout releases since the company allied with Disney for their non-animated releases.They seem to have miscalculated the degree to which Vaughn has burnt his audience with lousy product.

Judi Dench and Steve Coogan in 'Philomena'
Judi Dench and Steve Coogan in 'Philomena'

Last weekend's #1 and 2 films each fell a notch, with both "Thor: The Dark World" (Buena Vista) and "The Best Man Holiday" (Universal) dropping 60% from last Friday with $4,057,000 and $3,800,000 respectively. As with the rest of the Top 10, these drops are due in large part to a big new film taking away from all the competition, with the drops for the whole weekend likely to be less.

With "Catching Fire" making up more than 75% of the top, the Top 10 totaled $87 million, up from $69 a year ago (which because of calendar shift was Black Friday, always a strong box office day). But the increase partially hides the low take of the rest of the top 10, none of which grossed as much as $1.4 million. In order they are "Last Vegas" (CBS), "Free Birds" (Relativity), "Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa" (Paramount), "Gravity" (Warner Bros.), "12 Years a Slave" (Fox Searchlight) and "Dallas Buyers Club" (Focus). "Dallas" is of note as it is playing in only 666 theaters as it widens in its fourth weekend, and continues to show a strong response from adult audiences.

Two significant new limited openings had initial success. Disney's "Frozen," which goes wide next Wednesday, opened up at Los Angeles' El Capitan Theater (with a stage show and advanced prices) to $66,000 yesterday. Weinstein's "Philomena," with Judi Dench getting attention as a potential Best Actress contender, grossed $33,000 in 4 New York/Los Angeles locations, a bit under what "Nebraska" did last Friday (with three of the same theaters and the other one comparable).


  • Anne Thompson | November 24, 2013 4:37 PMReply

    These were Friday numbers. The movie improved over the weekend. And did set a season record.

  • diana | November 25, 2013 1:27 PM

    To be fair, the b.o. should be measured using the same measuring stick. Catching fire opened Thurs at 8pm instead of midnight. They have the advantage of being shown in IMAX and 3D-enhanced. The numbers should be adjusted for
    inflation. Better still, number of tickets sold is more credible and eliminates the need to adjust for inflation, 3D and IMAX PREMIUM, but exclude the early Thurs evening screening from the total.

  • Aimee | November 24, 2013 1:28 PMReply

    You mean setting the record for highest opening weekend gross for November, knocking off New Moons's record, beating the first films record and passing The Dark Knight's record wasn't enough for this website? Gees. Bet if this was a male lead comic book film the headline would be more realistic.

  • gary | November 23, 2013 7:00 PMReply

    I was walking down the street this morning and in front of a phone store a guy who seemed to work there had a table with all the new movies on DVD for $5 each. HUNGER GAMES, DELIVERY MAN, THOR, 12 YEARS A name it. Even had labels on them and he said they were HD downloads or off screeners.

  • Tom Brueggemann | November 23, 2013 4:40 PMReply

    Thx for catching that - corrected.

  • George | November 23, 2013 3:16 PMReply

    Fantastic numbers regardless. But, to be fair, was BD2 3D enhanced? I thought all the Twilight's were 2D.

  • david | November 25, 2013 1:12 PM

    Yes, BD2 was 2D and so were all the other 4 Twilight movies. And to be fair inflation needs to be factored in as well if we are comparing b.o. Even better would be to use the actual number of tickets sold, which is what Brazil and some other countries use. BD2 in Brazil is currently still the record holder of the highest single day sales and the highest opening day and weekend gross of any movie.

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