Not since Harry Potter’s final act, over two years ago, have we had a movie open this high outside superhero flicks. The Hunger Games: Catching Fire might not have caught so many by surprise, like its predecessor did last year, but it still managed to impress with the biggest November debut of all time.
$158 million is the final weekend take of Catching Fire, $3 million short of Sunday estimates which would have made it the biggest 2D opener ever in North America. Since that initial number didn’t pan out, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire will have to settle with 3rd place among non-3D launches, behind both The Dark Knight (158.4 million) and The Dark Knight Rises ($160.8 million). With or without that notch on its belt, Catching Fire remains the highest opener of all time outside of the summer season (yes, May qualifies as summer for Hollywood studios). Previously The Hunger Games held that record with $152.5 million. This level of retention from original to sequel, after such a massive debut the first time around, is absolutely incredible and speaks volumes about just how well received the series is. No offense to Twilight but this is how you do a young-adult book adaptation. Sure, it helps that the source material was probably infinitely superior. Now the last question, can Catching Fire also muster $408 million or more, like The Hunger Games did? Holiday season could help but there’s more competition for this sequel then there was for the original, so I’m going to say no, for now. It should still easily push $370-390 million by the time it leaves theaters. That’s more than any Harry Potter or Lord of the Rings (not adjusted for inflation), let alone Twilight.
Thor: The Dark World took a 61.2% dive with $14.2 million. That’s $167.9 million after 17 days or only about $10 million more then The Hunger Games: Catching Fire managed to pull in three days, without 3D. Suffice to say, while it will eventually end up above $200 million, Catching Fire should already be ahead (no surprises there) by the time you read this.
The Best Man Holiday didn’t have any more luck either, down 58.5% to $12.4 million. With $50.3 million already (after 10 days), all on a $17 million budget, this is a hit for everyone involved.
The other new release of the weekend, remake Delivery Man (which should have been moved up a week), opened to a lousy $7.9 million. This is down there with the absolute lowest debuts of Vince Vaughn’s career. The days of him opening in the $30 million range seem long gone now. For those still interested in this movie, I recommend checking out the original, here, called Starbuck, a funny and heartwarming French-Canadian comedy released two years ago.
Free Birds rounds out the top 5 with $5.3 million for a new total of $48.6 million