Box Office Results: Catching Fire Destroys Twilight’s November Opening Record

The Box Office Report has been updated with studio estimates for the weekend. Click here for the full box office estimates of the top 12 films and then check back on Monday for the final figures based on actual box office.

The biggest question going into this weekend wasn’t whether Lionsgate’s anticipated sequel The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, reuniting Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth, Woody Harrelson et al, would open big, but whether it would break any box office records. That question was asked even more once Friday estimates and projections started being thrown about and the $70.5 million grossed including Thursday previews fell short of the three “Twilight Saga” movies released in November.

The dust has settled and according to Lionsgate estimates, the anticipated sequel did indeed set a solid November opening record with $161.1 million, far surpassing the previous record of $142.8 million held by The Twilight Saga: New Moon, as well as opening higher than both of Christopher Nolan’s “Dark Knight” movies. This also places its opening firmly among the Top 5 openings of all time behind The Avengers, Iron Man 3 and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2. This is also in comparison to The Hunger Games‘ domestic opening of $152.5 million back in March 2012, which at the time was the third-highest opening domestically – that’s now dropped to #7.

Internationally, the movie is also proving to be far bigger than the original movie with the $308 million grossed this weekend in 65 territories (including the U.S. and Canada) being 45% higher than the opening of the original movie.

IMAX had a big weekend between the continued play of Alfonso Cuaron’s Gravity in the format and the IMAX opening of “Catching Fire,” which accumulated $25.7 million in IMAX theaters across the globe, the second-biggest weekend in the company’s history. “Catching Fire” accounted for $12.6 million domestically on 347 IMAX screens, a record for the month, with IMAX screenings making up 8 of the movie’s Top 10 runs this weekend. It added another $5.4 million on IMAX screens overseas to bring its global IMAX total over $18 million.

With a new “must see” movie opening in theaters, that didn’t leave anywhere for Marvel Studios’ Thor: The Dark World to go but down, as it dropped another 61% to second place with $14.1 million. So far, it has grossed $167.8 million domestically and is expected to pass the $181 million North American gross of the original movie next weekend. That said, it might be a slow uphill battle to $200 million with Peter Jackson’s second installment of The Hobbit opening a few weekends later. (To add insult to injury, “The Hunger Games” sequel made in three days almost as much as the “Thor” sequel has made in three weeks.)

Internationally, “The Dark World” added another $24.8 million this weekend with the movie opening in Italy and Greece to reach 98% of international territories with $549 million grossed worldwide, $381 million of that from international markets. It’s already passed the international grosses for the first four movies from Marvel Studios.

Malcolm D. Lee’s comedy sequel The Best Man Holiday (Universal), starring Morris Chestnut, Taye Diggs, Regina Hall, Terrence Howard, Sanaa Lathan, Nia Long and Harold Perrineau, also took a nasty plunge, down 58% to third place with $12.5 million over the weekend and $50.3 million total.

Vince Vaughn’s latest vehicle Delivery Man (DreamWorks), Ken Scott’s English-language remake of his own French-Canadian hit Starbuck, opened softly with $8.2 million in 3,036 for fourth place. The lesson to be learned there is that it’s not wise to try to offer counter programming to a four-quadrant movie that will likely be the first choice for most moviegoers.

The month-long battle between the kids’ turkey movie Free Birds (Relativity Media) and the oldies’ comedy Last Vegas (CBS Films) continues to be hugely exciting, basically to no one but myself. After falling behind Last Vegas for most of the past two weeks, the animated movie was able to pick up some steam, dropping 35% to fifth place with $5.3 million and $48.6 million total. Meanwhile, the Jon Turteltaub-directed Vegas comedy took a bigger plunge but still managed $4.4 million for the weekend as it brought its total to $53.9 million. Last Vegas is just a few short days away from becoming CBS Films’ highest-grossing film to date as it surpasses 2012’s The Woman in Black, starring Daniel Radcliffe.

Johnny Knoxville’s Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa (Paramount) took seventh place with $3.4 million and $95.45 million, making one wonder if Paramount will keep it in enough theaters to take it over the $100 million mark, making it the second movie in the series to reach that milestone. Overseas, the movie has grossed $33 million making its global total $128.5 million so far.

Alfonso Cuaron’s hit space thriller Gravity added another $3.3 million to take eighth place with a running domestic total of $245.5 million.

Ninth and tenth place were a close race between two critically-acclaimed films, Steve McQueen’s 12 Years a Slave (Fox Searchlight) and Dallas Buyers Club (Focus Features), starring Matthew McConaughey and Jared Leto, each with roughly $2.8 million. The latter expanded into 666 theaters on Friday, allowing it to move into the Top 10 as it brought its total to $6.4 million. McQueen’s movie dropped another 39% from last weekend while bringing its own total to $29.3 million

Although Paul Greengrass and Tom Hanks’ thriller Captain Phillips (Sony) dropped out of the Top 10, it was able to cross the $100 million mark this weekend, the 28th film of 2013 to cross that mark.

It’s hard to do a 1:1 weekend comparison since this weekend last year was Thanksgiving but the total gross of this weekend’s Top 10 fell roughly $22 million short of besting the weekend when The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 2 opened last November without having the back-up boost of Skyfall and Lincoln.

As far as notable limited releases, Walt Disney Pictures’ animated musical Frozen, featuring the voices of Kristen Bell, Idina Menzel and more, took in $237.6 thousand in its exclusive first weekend run at the El Capitan theater in Los Angeles. That’s slightly lower but mostly on par with the similar exclusive releases given to Pixar Animation’s Toy Story 2 and A Bug’s Life back in ’98 and ’99, respectively. Like both those movies, Frozen will open nationwide next Wednesday, the day before Thanksgiving, and is expected to do very well over the family-friendly moviegoing holiday.

Stephen Frears’ new dramedy Philomena (The Weinstein Company), starring Dame Judi Dench and Steve Coogan, platformed in four theaters in New York and L.A. before expanding wider on Wednesday, bringing in $134 thousand or roughly $33.4 thousand per site.

Click here for the full box office estimates of the top 12 films.


Marvel and DC