Box Office Report: 'Catching Fire' Falls Short of Predictions and Still Breaks November Record

Box Office Report: 'Catching Fire' Falls Short of Predictions and Still Breaks November Record

Nov 24, 2013

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

1. The Hunger Games: Catching Fire - $161.1 million

2. Thor: The Dark World - $14.1 million

3. The Best Man Holiday - $12.5 million

4. Delivery Man - $8.2 million

5. Free Birds - $5.3 million

6. Last Vegas - $4.4 million

7. Jackass Presents Bad Grandpa - $3.4 million

8. Gravity - $3.3 million

9. 12 Years a Slave - $2.8 million

10. Dallas Buyers Club - $2.7 million

The Big Stories

Only in the world of box office prognostication could an opening of $161 million be considered a disappointment for a sequel to The Hunger Games. Think of how absurd that sounds for a moment and we'll continue. Do you think Lionsgate is upset that it opened to over $131 million more than any of its releases in 2013? Do you think the studio is upset that the profits from this forthcoming international blockbuster is going to help put it in back in the black after a string of major disappointments including its biggest and most recent, Ender's Game? Do you think anyone over there would have the guts to moan that taking the all-time November record opening away from a pre-Lionsgate owned Summit (The Twilight Saga: New Moon's $142.8 million) is not what they had hoped for? Only if they were listening to us.

 

May the Odds Never Be in Your Favor?

Fandango reported that Catching Fire was outpacing Iron Man 3 as the advance ticket seller of the year. "An opening north of $160 million seems like a safe bet," said Ray Subers of Box Office Mojo. "With a more aggressive marketing campaign and an expanded fan base, it's practically a foregone conclusion," said Ray, that the film will at least top the original's start of $152.5 million. Jeff Bock at ERCboxoffice.com estimated $175 million. Gitesh Pandya at Box Office Guru suggested $180 million. And why shouldn't they? History suggests that big franchise sequels tend to post an increase upon their second outing. The difference being that films like The Matrix, Pirates of the Caribbean, Shrek, X-Men, The Hangover and Batman Begins developed an ever greater fan base in the downtime between films. Not such the case with Spider-Man, the sequel of which shifted its release pattern from out-of-the-gate in May to the July Fourth holiday and saw its opening weekend go from $114.8 million down to $88.1 million, a 23% drop. Catching Fire went up 5.6% from one of the biggest openings of all time.

Remember this. The five films that have posted a higher opening weekend than The Hunger Games were all sequels. Three of them opened since, which made Gary Ross' film the third best opener ever behind just The Dark Knight and the final chapter of Harry Potter. It remains the biggest start to a nonsequel in box office history. Any kind of increase with Catching Fire is impressive no matter how you spin it. Catching Fire's opening now owns the all-time November start; a number good enough for number one in any other month save for July and May. It's the fourth best opening weekend of all time. It's the 26th film to start with over $100 million. Just the eighth to start with over $150. It's the second best opener of 2013 (after Iron Man 3's insane $174.1 million start), has over $307 million worldwide and should be no worse than the third highest grosser of the year. Not. Bad. At. All.

 

Bad. At. All.

Vince Vaughn may have been looking to get back a little of his dramatic roots with Delivery Man, but it may be time to go back to them permanently. You have to remember that post-Swingers and pre-Old School, Vaughn gave a string of dramatic performances in films like Return to Paradise, The Cell and even Gus Van Sant's Psycho remake. After Todd Phillips helped put him back on the comedy path (with some naturally bad Phillips comedies) the successes of Dodgeball and Wedding Crashers convinced Hollywood filmmakers they had a regular winner on their hands a la Adam Sandler; only a lot quicker, funnier and at least seemed to be trying. The Break-Up, Couples Retreat and Four Christmases were all $100-plus-million grossers. Perhaps finally realizing that Vaughn's film choices were not up to quality, his next three vehicles did not even crack $50 million.

That included this year's The Internship, which seemed like a good bet to at least push Vaughn back into $100 million territory. Reteamed with his Wedding Crashers costar Owen Wilson, the film's total gross was just $10-plus million more than what their 2005 pairing opened to. If Delivery Man had hit the "hilarious and heartfelt" mark that "the perfect holiday film" described by junket whores then maybe Vaughn could kick on as a leading man for a few more years. As it stands now, Delivery Man is going to be his first film to open on over 2,000 screens to not crack $10 million. Even Gus Van Sant's Psycho remake did that. Perhaps it is time for a new career path for Vaughn. He's a good actor that could reinvent himself with interesting supporting roles, as he'll have in Anchorman 2 in a few weeks where he'll probably make people laugh again. Doing another film with Delivery Man director Ken Scott (due in theaters next October) does not bode well - especially when opening against another successful franchise in Paranormal Activity 5. Then again, pairing with Will Ferrell in Daddy's Home could mean a few more years of films as bad as Delivery Man.


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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