Weekend Wrap-Up

Catching Fire Keeps Hunger Games Franchise Hot

By John Hamann

November 24, 2013

If Caesar Flickerman were real, we'd watch a lot more TV.

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The Hunger Games: Catching Fire officially joins the ranks of the upper-echelon mega-blockbusters (think Marvel, Twilight and Potter), but for these uber-franchises, their weekend grosses comes down to how the Saturday performs. The Twilight and Harry Potter movies were front-loaded, and the effect is seen in the drop from Friday-to-Saturday. Twilight films, fell between 42% and 44% from Friday-to-Saturday regardless of the size of the Friday number. Potter was less predictable, due to the number of years the franchise ran and the difference between November and summer release dates. The last November Harry Potter film, Deathly Hallows Part 1, fell 38% from Friday-to-Saturday.

Marvel movies are show a different trend. There is a far smaller decrease from Friday-to-Saturday for superheroes, because they don’t have that rabid YA fanbase front-loading their films. Iron Man 3 fell 9.6% on Saturday after its first Friday, and the rest of the Marvel movies consistently average about a 12% drop from Friday-to-Saturday. That leaves us the question of Katniss and The Hunger Games: Catching Fire – which course would it follow?

Following a somewhat predictable $70.5 million Thursday/Friday, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire surprised again, as it moved from opening weekend to the weekend proper. It dipped 25% to $53 million on Saturday when compared to $70.5 million, but it increased over the "true" Friday figure by about 15%. The drop is consistent with neither Marvel nor Twilight, as The Hunger Games is going to sing its own tune. The original film fell 25% from Friday-to-Saturday, and the sequel remained the same at 25%. Compared to the "true Friday" gross of $45.3 million, Catching Fire was right on target, and headed for a fantastic weekend. The only question left was where it would finish for the top openers of all time.


The three-day estimated gross for The Hunger Games: Catching Fire came in at $161.1 million, a healthy increase over the original, good for the sixth biggest debut of all time. The $161.1 million estimate for Catching Fire means it will wind up somewhere between the fourth to sixth largest opening of all-time, depending on actual numbers to be released Monday. The Dark Knight Rises is currently #4 at $160.9 million, with The Dark Knight right behind it at $158.4 million. Third place is Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 with $169.2 million, so the second Hunger Games movie will not be reaching that plateau. Iron Man 3 will wind up the biggest opener of 2013 at $174.1 million. Catching Fire breaks the all-time record for a November opening (sorry, Twilight), and is in a position to dominate the next few weekends.

Catching Fire cost $130 million, a significant increase over the original’s $78 million, as casting costs ballooned and Lionsgate put a better picture in front of audiences. It was probably one of the safer investments ever, as the studio will profit handsomely off the domestic gross of this one alone. Solid legs should be in store, as reviews are fantastic, better than the original’s 84% fresh rating by coming in at 89%. It also earned an A Cinemascore, which means fans are liking what they see.

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