Catching Fire Keeps Hunger Games Franchise Hot
By John Hamann
November 24, 2013
For The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, this is the best weekend to release a blockbuster I’ve seen in recent memory. Given where we are in the calendar, Catching Fire should follow the original’s march toward $400 million, as Thanksgiving will prop it up next weekend against Frozen. The two other openers, Homefront and Black Nativity, aren’t competing in the same demo, and then Catching Fire will have no new films to compete with in weekend three. The slate is clean of competition until The Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug shows up on December 13th. Thor: The Dark World is only a speed bump by weekend three, and there’s been nothing for women in a long time. No film released in November has ever gone to earn $400 million. In fact, only two November openers have earned $300 million, so may the odds be ever in The Hunger Games: Catching Fire's favor.
The odds are in fact in its favor to get to $400 million. Let’s look a little closer at how Catching Fire is going to perform over the next week, with Thanksgiving looming. Following the Twilight: Breaking Dawn Part 2 debut, it declined 69% over Thanksgiving "weekend", but still earned $86.3 million (61% of its $141 million opening weekend) over Thanksgiving week. Part 1 behaved similarly, opening to $138.1 million, dipping 70% over the Thanksgiving frame, but still earning $82.7 million over Thanksgiving week (60% of opening). Deathly Hallows earned $94 million Thanksgiving week (75% of opening) and New Moon $88 million (62% of opening). Should the trending remain for Catching Fire, it should take in around 67% of its opening weekend over Thanksgiving week, meaning it will make another $108 million over the next seven days. It will be knocking on the door of $300 million by the middle of next week. They may want to change the name of the movie to Caught Fire.
The game changer for Lionsgate and Catching Fire, though, is those overseas grosses. Early reports have an overseas total, coming in hot at around $146.6 million from 65 territories, with Lionsgate reporting "double" the numbers of the original. The worldwide total is an astounding $307.7 million, which means it's already almost halfway (44%) to The Hunger Games' final global take of $693 million. Catching Fire is behaving more like a true sequel overseas than it is here, as the traditional sequel front-loading seems to be occurring. Should the overseas gross double the original, Lionsgate would be looking at about $565 million, which would mean the sequel would need about $435 million stateside to reach the billion dollar mark. The good news for Lionsgate is that all of these numbers are, remarkably, still on the table. Lionsgate has turned a nothing into a fairly major something, and I expect even bigger things from Mockingjay Part 1 next year, as some are comparing Catching Fire to The Empire Strikes Back.
Finishing a distant second is Thor: The Dark World, which feels a world away from Catching Fire. The Dark World caught fire itself three weekends ago when it opened to $85.7 million. After a 57% plunge last weekend to $36.6 million last weekend, The Dark World dives again this weekend against Katniss and company. In weekend three, Thor: The Dark World pulled in only $14.1 million, good for another hefty drop of 61%. The original Thor also ran into some stiff competition in weekend three, as it was up against The Hangover Part II and Kung Fu Panda 2, which combined for about $135 million. That weekend, Thor dipped 55%, the highest drop in its run. The Dark World has pulled in $167.8 million for Disney so far, whereas the original had earned $145.4 million through three weekends. Like Catching Fire, though, the difference between the Thors needed to be overseas gross. The original earned $268.3 million overseas, but The Dark World has already earned over $350 million.