November 23, 2013

EARLY FRIDAY BOX OFFICE: How Hot Is “Catching Fire”?


Early numbers at Deadline have the opening day (including Thursday night) of THE HUNGER GAMES: CATCHING FIRE (Lionsgate) at $67.5M, $200K above the launch of the original Hunger Games.  That makes it slightly puzzling that the weekend estimates, at Deadline and elsewhere, peg the weekend at around $145M, $7M or so less than Hunger Games’ first weekend (although still enough for the highest November opening ever, topping Twilight: New Moon‘s $142.9M, and in fact the highest opening for any month but March, May or July).  These estimates are built around the idea that Catching Fire will drop more than 30% on Saturday, even though Hunger Games itself fell only an already-high 25% (and Iron Man 3, another huge franchise title, slipped just 10% on its second day of release).  The big Saturday drop could happen–the theory must be that sequels tend to be more front-loaded than their predecessors, and the Twilight movies had massive Saturday drops that topped 40%–but considering the strong word of mouth Catching Fire should have, it’s not a certainty.  And even if Catching Fire does end up below the opening 3 days of Hunger Games, it’s worth keeping in mind that while Hunger Games had an ordinary second weekend on its calendar, Catching Fire will have the benefit of the 5-day Thanksgiving holiday, which could keep the Week 2 decline well under Hunger Games’ 62%.

The only other wide opening of the weekend, DELIVERY MAN (DreamWorks/Disney), had nothing with a $2.8M Friday and perhaps a $9M weekend.  It’s going to be hard to green-light a movie on the basis of Vince Vaughn’s name after 4 flops in a row.

THOR: THE DARK WORLD (Disney) will be in 2d place for the weekend, but it was hit hard by Catching Fire, down around 60% Friday-to-Friday to $4.2M.  It should still end up with $200M+ in the US, 10% or more above the first Thor.  THE BEST MAN HOLIDAY (Universal) was beaten up even worse, down 65% from last Friday to $3.5M, although still with a very healthy $75M in its sights.  LAST VEGAS (CBS) and FREE BIRDS (Relativity) look to be holding up better, albeit at lower levels of the Top 10.

This was the first weekend that 12 YEARS A SLAVE (Fox Searchlight) was only able to add a few theatres to its count, and it showed, as its weekend total may fall as much as 40% this week, with a per-theatre average below $2K and a long way to go before the Oscars.  DALLAS BUYERS CLUB (Focus/Universal) expanded to 666 theatres with fair success, perhaps a $4K average for the weekend.


About the Author

Mitch Salem
MITCH SALEM has worked on the business side of the entertainment industry for 20 years, as a senior business affairs executive and attorney for such companies as NBC, ABC, USA, Syfy, Bravo, and BermanBraun Productions, and before that, at the NY law firm of Weil, Gotshal & Manges. During all that, he has more or less constantly been going to the movies and watching TV, and writing about both since the 1980s. His film reviews also currently appear on and In addition, he is co-writer of an episode of the television series "Felicity."