Box Office Report: 'The Hunger Games: Catching Fire' and 'Frozen' Break Thanksgiving Records

Box Office Report: 'The Hunger Games: Catching Fire' and 'Frozen' Break Thanksgiving Records

Dec 01, 2013

Here are your five-day Thanksgiving box office returns (new releases bolded):

1. The Hunger Games: Catching Fire - $110.1 million

2. Frozen - $93.0 million

3. Thor: The Dark World - $19.7 million

4. The Best Man Holiday - $11.1 million

5. Homefront - $9.7 million

6. Delivery Man - $9.6 million

7. The Book Thief - $6.4 million

8. Black Nativity - $5.0 million

9. Philomena - $4.6 million

10. Last Vegas - $3.8 million


The Big Stories

Anyone who wavered last weekend thinking The Hunger Games Deux was only a marginal success story given its slight increase in attendance over the original certainly has more to write about on the positive side this week (not that they shouldn't have been writing positively about Catching Fire's success in the first place). The film is a monster and the folks at Lionsgate look like geniuses for programming it a week before Thanksgiving and giving the holiday the kind of spark it has not seen in a while. Katniss most certainly had a sidekick at the box office this week, though, and whether your taste leaned towards slaughtering children or merely exploiting them for the top dollar, you certainly had a feast this holiday.


Catching Iron Man 3's Fire

On April 1, 2012, The Hunger Games had already grossed $248.4 million in its first 10 days. Well, Catching Fire is up to $296 million. It took another seven days for the original to cross that milestone. Impressive as that was, the sequel has an opportunity to begin gliding through the holiday past the $408 million mark set by its predecessor. When it reaches $409 it will be the number-one-grossing film of 2013, passing Iron Man 3, which had $284.9 million in its first 10 days. So the question remains just how high can Catching Fire can climb? Out of the Furnace is the only wide release opening next week, leaving the film little competition aside from this weekend's potential solid holdover. Even with a standard 60%-ish drop post-Thanksgiving, the film should end up somewhere around $30 million, putting it likely around $360 or more by next Sunday. So where would that rank Hunger Games: Catching Fire on the all-time list of top-grossing sequels?

The Avengers ($457.6), The Dark Knight ($393.7), The Hunger Games: Catching Fire ($360+ estimated), The Dark Knight Rises ($353.9), Avatar ($352.1), Iron Man 3 ($337.6), Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen ($322.6), Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest ($321.8), The Hunger Games ($302.4), Toy Story 3 ($289.1), Shrek ($287.0), Spider-Man ($285.5), The Phantom Menace ($231.2), Titanic ($157.4)

Naturally no one is expecting Catching Fire to do James Cameron-type numbers, but it most certainly is going to be the biggest film of the year, soon after eclipsing the original and clearing a path towards at leasts $423.4 million to make the top 10 all-time domestic list. The film is also just a few million away from besting the original's international haul of $283.2 million and should surpass its $691.2 million worldwide total.

Frozen Ices Thanksgiving Competition

Thanksgiving weekend has always been held up as a major opening date for the box office, though in reality only two films have ever opened to over $50 million. And we're talking over five days. Maybe we're just used to a new era when films open to that much seemingly every week - 13 films just this year. This century only five movies have even opened to $40 million over the five-day holiday. Twenty-five films have achieved that feat alone this year. One thing you can count on is that no matter the final number, Disney owns this holiday. Eight of the 10 best Thanksgiving openings have been released by Disney. Now Frozen's record-breaking five-day start pushes the original Toy Story off that list and bests Toy Story 2's $80.1 million start by nearly $13 million. Consider the all-time five-day Thanksgiving weekends though:

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire ($110.2 million), Frozen ($93.0), Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone ($82.3), Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire ($81.2), Toy Story 2 ($80.1), Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1 ($74.9), How the Grinch Stole Christmas ($73.5), Tangled ($68.7), The Twilight Saga: New Moon ($66.2), The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 2 ($64.4)

All of those with the exception of Tangled and, now, Frozen were on their second weekends. Their newest animated offering is $22 million ahead of the pace of Tangled. Where will that ultimately put it on Disney's all-time list of animated November openers?

The Incredibles ($261.4), Monsters, Inc. ($255.8), Toy Story 2 ($245.8), Aladdin ($217.3), Tangled ($200.8), Toy Story ($191.7), Wreck-It Ralph ($189.4), A Bug's Life ($162.7), Beauty and the Beast ($145.8), A Christmas Carol ($137.8)


Tales of the Top 10

The other new openers this holiday are barely worth a mention. Homefront's $8.7 million is further proof that no one gives one care about Jason Statham outside of The Expendables and eventually Fast & Furious 7. His highest grosser as a star was Transporter 2's $43 million. His last five vehicles have averaged just $20.5 million and Homefront may not even make that. Fox Searchlight's Black Nativity grossed only $5 million to not exactly put a positive spin on last week's look at African-American-themed films at the box office. About $100 million is being saved for A Madea Christmas in a few weeks. Meanwhile, The Best Man Holiday is up to $64 million. Thor: The Dark World is limping its way towards $200 million but will still be one of 2013's 10 highest worldwide grossers with over $600 million.

The Book Thief and Philomena both expanded their way into the top 10 on less than 1,250 screens each. Delivery Man is going to pass the remake of Psycho on the Vince Vaughn list, but will not reach the low heights of The Watch's $35 million to become the lowest grossing wide release comedy of his career. On the flipside, CBS Films can celebrate that Last Vegas has become the highest grossing film of its four-year existence. The folks there should celebrate their $60 million jackpot with a picture holding a giant check in the Cosmopolitan casino and putting it on the hotel's future brochures.

Film District, on the other hand, which is folding into Focus Features, is going out on its own with a sour note with Oldboy. Spike Lee's remake, which he was reportedly forced to cut an hour out of (and, oh boy, does it feel that way) was pushed from October to Thanksgiving and then barely released on just 583 screens. Girl 6 was released on nearly twice as many screens as that. Hopefully the $1.2 million it made (against its $30 million budget) will be enough to fund the full director's cut on Blu-ray.


- Erik Childress can be seen each Thursday morning on WCIU-TV's First Business breaking down the box office on the Movies & Money segment.

[box office figures via Box Office Mojo]





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