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Box Office: The Hunger Games: Catching Fire & Frozen Set Thanksgiving Records

Posted on the 01 December 2013 by Weminoredinfilm.com @WeMinoredInFilm

So, here’s what happened this weekend at the domestic box office: Hunger Games: Catching Fire and Frozen set Thanksgiving records.  There wasn’t much room for anything else, as evidenced by the soft  openings for all other new releases.

Let’s break it down:

Top 10 Estimated Totals for the 11/27-12/1 Thanksgiving 5-Day Box Office (Domestic)

1. Hunger Games: Catching Fire


  • Weekend Gross=$74.5 million
  • 5-Day Thanksgiving Gross=$110.2 million
  • Total Gross to Date=$296.5 Million
  • Budget=$130 million

Foreign:  $92.5 million this weekend for a new total foreign gross of $276.5 million and combined worldwide total of $573 million.

Last weekend, Catching Fire opened with an actual total of $158 million, an improvement on the $152 million for Hunger Games last year but nowhere close to Iron Man 3‘s $174 million opening.  So, it didn’t open as big as Iron Man 3, but it’s actually holding stronger, despite its competitive disadvantage as 2D movie vs. the 3D Iron Man 3.  After 10 days Iron Man 3‘s domestic gross was $284 million; in 10 days, Catching Fire is  just south of $300 million with a total of $296.5 million.  Catching Fire is also well ahead of the pace of the first Hunger Games, which was at $248 million after 10 days on its way to a final domestic total of $408 million.

There’s more.  With its $110.2 million total across the five-day Thanksgiving holiday, Catching Fire easily became the top grossing Thanksgiving title of all time (suck it, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone and your $82.4 million back in 2001).  It’s $74.5 million weekend gross was the fourth best gross in a movie’s second weekend, trailing onlyThe Avengers($103.1 million), Avatar ($75.6 million) and The Dark Knight($75.2 million).

2. Frozen (Opening Weekend)


  • Weekend Gross=$66.7 million
  • 5-Day Thanksgiving Gross=$93.3 million
  • Budget=$150 million

Foreign: $16.7 million this weekend for a combined worldwide total of $109.7 million.

Technically, Frozen opened last weekend…in 1 theater in California.  Expanding wide this week on Wednesday, it performed above expectations, landing the top Thanksgiving debut of all time with a five-day gross of $93 million. The previous record holder had been the $80.1 million five-day launch of Toy Story 2 in 1999.  If not for the $101.1 million taken in by Catching Fire, Frozen‘s five-day total of $93.3 million would have actually been the highest of all time, not just limited to movies which premiered over Thanksgiving.  This is certainly a better-than-expected performance, considering that Disney Animation Studios scored pretty big in 2010 when the rather similar Tangled grossed $68.7 million.  Frozen was expected to do better than that, just not quite to this extent.    

3. Thor: The Dark World


  • Weekend Gross=$11.1 million
  • 5-Day Thanksgiving Gross=$15.5 million
  • Total Gross to Date=$186.7 million
  • Budget=$170 million

Foreign: $12.2 million this weekend for a new total foreign gross of $404.4 million and combined worldwide total of $591.1 million.

It’s amazing how completely pedestrian Thor: The Dark World‘s business now seems in the wake of what Lionsgate is doing with The Hunger Games: Catching Fire.  The Dark World is your standard high-grossing comic book movie whereas Hunger Games has been continually forcing us to check the record books.  Heck, even when you try to level the playing field and simply compare The Dark World to the big budget movie that came out on the same exact weekend last year, Skyfall, it still looks bad.  In their first 24 days of domestic release, The Dark World is at $186.7 million vs. Skyfall’s $245.8 million.  The best comparison, though, is to the first Thor, which ended with a domestic ($181 million) and foreign gross ($268 million) which have now both been surpassed by The Dark World.   Similar to Iron Man 3, 68% of The Dark World’s worldwide money has come from the international market.  As of right now, Thor: The Dark World is the 7th highest worldwide grossing film of 2013, although Catching Fire will surpass it on the chart in probably just a couple of days.

4. The Best Man Holiday

Best Man Holiday

  • Weekend Gross=$8.4 million
  • 5-Day Thanksgiving Gross=$11.1 million
  • Total Gross to Date=$63.4 million
  • Budget=$17 million

Foreign: Made its non-North American debut this weekend in the U.K./Ireland, but there is as yet no estimate to how much it made over there.

That’s more like it.  After opening big, Best Man Holiday fell a little more than expected at 59% last weekend.  Here, it rebounded to only fall 32%, registering the third best per-screen average (better than The Dark World).  In 17 days, Best Man Holiday has raked in $63.4 million.  As a point of comparison, last year’s big winner with African-American audiences, Think Like a Man, was sitting at $73 million after 17 days, facing its first real competition of any kind in its third weekend when The Avengers came out.  The first Best Man was sitting at $24 million after its first 17 days in 1999, a total which translates to $38 million at 2013 ticket prices.    

5. Homefront (Opening Weekend)


  • Opening Weekend Gross=$6.97 million
  • 5-Day Thanksgiving Gross=$9.7 million
  • Budget=$22 million

Foreign: Concurrent to its North American debut, Homefront also opened in a handful of foreign markets.  It is currently unknown how well it played over there, though.

Starring Jason Statham and James Franco from a script penned by Sylvester Stallone, Homefront did so-so business.  Considering the mercurial nature of Franco’s career, recent non-Expandables performances from Stallone (Bullet to the Head), and average domestic performance for Staham this is actually exactly what you’d expect.  In fact, for as much as Staham is known as a notable action film star the average opening weekend for his movies in North America is $11 million.  The $6.97 million weekend gross for Homefront is almost identical to the $7 million opening weekend of Statham’s prior 2013 action film, Parker.

6. Delivery Man


  • Weekend Gross=$6.93 million
  • 5-Day Thanksgiving Gross=$9.8 million
  • Total Gross to Date=$19.4 million
  • Budget=$26 million

Foreign: Currently playing in 9 foreign countries, most notably Russia and China.  Information about its performance this past weekend is not yet available, but prior to this weekend it had grossed a combined $1.2 million foreign which now adds up to a worldwide total of $20.6 million.

Last week, Delivery Man seemed to be but the latest chapter in the box office downfall of Vince Vaughn, registering as one of his lowest openings ever.  The studio tried to siphon away some audience from The Hunger Games: Catching Fire but failed.  The good news, though, is that so many people were busy watching Hunger Games instead of Delivery Man last weekend that when Thanksgiving came around Delivery Man was practically treated by audiences as if it was a brand new release.  It dropped an amazingly minuscule 12.8%.  How well will it manage to hold next weekend when the only new release will be the Christian Bale drama Out of the Furnace?

7. The Book Thief


  • Weekend Gross=$4.8 million
  • 5-Day Thanksgiving Gross=$6.4 million
  • Total Gross to Date=$7.8 million
  • Budget=They’re Not Telling

Foreign: It is not currently scheduled to roll out into international territories until January.

Similar to Philomena, The Book Thief (adapted from Markus Zusak’s novel) was positioned by Fox as an adult-audience-leaning awards contender to pick up the flotsam and jetsam of moviegoers opting against bigger budget fare like Hunger Games, Frozen, and Thor.  After all, The Book Thief is about a young girl living with her foster parents in WWII Germany.  That’s not very festive, now is it?  Fox had much bigger success in the same exact weekend last year with another awards contending, novel adaptation, The Life of Pi (which grossed $30 million last Thanksgiving).  However, after playing in limited release for a couple of weeks The Book Thief did about as well as could be expected upon its wide expansion over Thanksgiving.

8. Black Nativity (Opening Weekend)


  • Weekend Gross=$3.8 million
  • 5-Day Thanksgiving Gross=$7.8 million
  • Budget=$17.5 million

Foreign: Will make its international debut next weekend when it opens in the U.K./Ireland.  Beyond that, it has not scheduled to hit any other foreign market until next June.

It’s Instructions Not Included/Pulling Strings all over again.  Back in August, the Spanish-language Instructions Not Included  became the fourth highest-grossing foreign language film of all time and single highest grossing Spanish-language film of all time.  Then Pulling Strings, another Spanish-language film from the same distributor, Lionsgate, bombed at the beginning of October.  Why?  To some degree, because Instructions Not Included was still around courting the same exact demographic.  You had a film targeted at an underserved demographic, and it became such a huge hit that there wasn’t enough space for the next film targeted at the exact same demographic.  The same basic situation has repeated itself with Best Man Holiday, which hit bigger than expected, and Black Nativity, which courted the same African-American demographic and lost.  Nativity is based upon a classic Langston Hughes play, and features stars (e.g., Forest Whitaker, Angela Basset, Tyrese Gibson, Jennifer Hudson) who’ve been draws for the African-American audience in the past.  As such, it’s somewhat surprising it didn’t do at least a little better.  Blame Best Man Holiday and the marketing which made Black Nativity appear like little more than a Hallmark movie with an entirely African-American cast.

9. Philomena


  • Weekend Gross=$3.7 million
  • 5-Day Thanksgiving Gross=$4.6 million
  • Total Gross to Date=$4.7 million
  • Budget=They’re Not Telling

Foreign: Debuted in the U.K./Ireland and Iceland at the beginning of November, where it has combined to gross $14.4 million foreign for a worldwide total of $19.1 million.  It is currently only scheduled to roll out into a handful of additional foreign markets over the next two months.

Expanding wide after premiering on 4 screens last weekend, Philomena played remarkably well despite having by far the lowest number of screens at 835 of any film in the top 10 (the next closest is 1,234 for Book Thief).  It’s per-screen-average of $4,358 was the fourth best of any film to finish in the top 10, trailing only Best Man Holiday, Frozen, and Hunger Games: Catching Fire.  Add in its current 93% critic approval rating on RottenTomatoes, and this awards contender starring Judi Dench and Steve Coogan would seem a prime candidate to stick around in the top 10 for a while longer.

10. Last Vegas


  • Weekend Gross=$2.7 million
  • 5-Day Thanksgiving Gross=$ million
  • Total Gross to Date=$58.7 million
  • Budget=$28 million

Foreign: Information about its performance this past weekend is not yet available, but prior to this weekend it had grossed a combined $14 million foreign which now adds up to a worldwide total of $72.7 million.

Hangover, this is not, but Last Vegas has displayed strong enough lasting power to become the highest grossing film in the history of its distributor, CBS Films.  Yay?  Kind of.  That’s definitely a good thing, but CBS Films has only been around for 3 years now, releasing 13 films in that time to an average domestic gross of $22.9 million.  By far, its biggest prior domestic hit had been the Daniel Radcliffe supernatural horror flick The Woman in Black ($54.3 million domestic).  Last Vegas has quite a ways to go if it intends to also match/surpass Woman in Black‘s foreign gross of $73.3 million.

Source: BoxOfficeMojo.com

What Happened Outside of the Top 10?

Who Fell Out of the Top 10?: There were five new movies either opening or expanding wide over Thanksgiving.  So, it’s no surprise then that a corresponding five older releases all left the top 10, Gravity (from #8 to #11), Dallas Buyer’s Club (from #10 to #12), 12 Years a Slave  (from #9 to #13), Bad Grandpa (#7 to #14), and Free Birds (#5 to #15). Free Birds suffered the most significant loss of business, plummeting 66%.  At $53.2 million, Free Birds will now end as either the single or second lowest domestic grossing animated film of 2013.  On the other end, Gravity, Dallas Buyers Club, and 12 Years a Slave all fell off by less than 19%.  Gravity is still a big hit overseas, where it grossed $25.4 million this weekend.  At $615.3 million, Gravity has now become the 6th highest worldwide grossing film of 2013, though Hunger Games: Catching Fire will surpass by this time next week.

Notable Performances from Films In Limited Release: Barely qualifying as a limited release, director Spike Lee’s remake of a modern Korean classic Old Boy bombed with less than $1 million from 583 screens.   Who gave Spike Lee a $30 million budget for this film?  He has directed 20 films over the course of his career, averaging a domestic gross of $18.8 million.  Don’t give him $30 million to go make a movie and expect to see a profit from the box office gross.  That’s just not the kind of director he is.

What’s Up Next?: The studios having apparently decided we could all use the extra time to catch up with the glut of new releases which flooded theaters over Thanksgiving, there is only one new release coming out next week, the Christian Bale-Woody Harrelson-Casey Affleck gritty drama Out of the Furnace.  It opens in a handful of theaters on Wednesday (12/4) before expanding wide on Friday (12/6).

Jeez, enough with the numbers already.

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