November 22, 2013

THURSDAY NIGHT BOX OFFICE: First Sparks For “Catching Fire”


With shows that began at 8PM last night, THE HUNGER GAMES: CATCHING FIRE (Lionsgate) earned $25.3M, and as is often the case with initial numbers, they can be read in several ways.  On the one hand, the result is considerably higher than the $19.7M Thursday night gross for the first Hunger Games–but that was for midnight shows only, and franchise sequels usually start out stronger.  It’s also well above the $15.6M Thursday night for Iron Man 3, which did kick off at 8PM, and had 2013’s highest opening weekend at $174M–but it’s below the $30.4M 10PM start for the final Twilight movie (which ended up with a $141.1M opening weekend), as well as the midnight-only starts for Breaking Dawn Part 1 ($30.3M), Eclipse ($30.1M), New Moon ($26.3M) and the biggest of them all, the last Harry Potter ($43.5M).

So, what does this tell us?  Not much more than we knew before:  Catching Fire is going to open very big, but its place in box office history is still unclear.

Meanwhile, Catching Fire is also opening in most international territories (but not Japan, France or Italy) this weekend, and initial numbers have it opening at double the rates of Hunger Games.  The big upside of Catching Fire is overseas, where the first movie lagged in comparison to its US success ($283.2M vs. $408M).  As a basis for comparison, the first Twilight made $199.9M internationally, but the first sequel New Moon more than doubled that to $413.2M.

Incidentally, on another box office topic:  look for some skewed numbers this weekend from Disney, which opened FROZEN at a single theater (which it owns) in LA, including a stage show and ticket prices that range up to $26.  That virtually guarantees it an inflated per-theatre “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."