It was always going to be a big one, but the real question was ‘how big?’ Well, as it turns out, big enough that every single possible fire/light based pun has already been used to describe the debut of HUNGER GAMES sequel CATCHING FIRE.
Damn you, Internet.
There was one other new release this week where Vince Vaughan did a thing with sperm but as that (thank all of the infinite heavens!) is nothing to do with sci-fi, fantasy or horror let’s get stuck into the Hungered Gamings.
With a $158.1 million opening weekend, CATCHING FIRE has gone and broken pretty much every record its predecessor set 20 months ago, including highest ever November debut, nearly the highest ever non-3D debut (when the actual numbers were reported it fell just behind THE DARK KNIGHT RISES and THE DARK KNIGHT) and the 6th highest debut of all time. Not bad for a weekend’s work.
With an audience split evenly across the ‘age 25’ boundary and a very healthy A CinemaScore, word-of-mouth will be very strong and should help the film onto some robust holds over the next few weeks. Beating out anything TWILIGHT-y is a guarantee and the real test will come from beating its predecessors $408 million domestic total. A tough ask maybe, but CATCHING FIRE is far more internationally focused than THE HUNGER GAMES was, and has the best chance of becoming the year’s second billion-dollar hitter behind IRON MAN 3.
And all this without the inflating boost of 3D (which will inevitably propel MOCKINGJAY onto further record-breaking heights when it releases next year). Good job, Lionsgate.
So while the Top 12 as a collective pulled in $222 million making it the 10th best weekend of all time, it was considerably less merry news for everyone else this weekend. THOR 2 in particular took a beating, hemorrhaging 61.2% and taking $14.1 million in its 3rd week. It should still break the $200 million mark, but the margin will be slim.
FREE BIRDS (dropping 33.8%) and GRAVITY (falling 47.7%) had somewhat happier weeks in 3rd and 4th, pulling in $5.3 and $3.3 million respectively as they both approach the end of their cinematic runs.
Meanwhile, with a 4th week free-fall of 67.1% and $2 million ENDER’S GAME is dead and buried in 5th.
Okay, so I opened this report with a lie. There’s a second new release in our chart this week, the movie production debut of nutjob American Senator Rick Santorum. The ‘for Christians only’ flick THE CHRISTMAS CANDLE expanded to 392 theatres and hit 7th spot, picking up 980k. And why does it count? Because it’s all about miracles and stuff that are definitely fantasy HAR HAR RELIGIOUS SATIRE, GUYZ.
Finally, THE BOOK THIEF expanded to an extra 41 cinemas to the tune of $605k ahead of its imminent nationwide release.
Domestic Top 10
1. The Hunger Games: Catching Fire - $158.1m - ($158.1m gross)
2. Thor: The Dark World - $14.1m - ($167.8m gross)
3. Free Birds - $5.3m - ($48.6m gross)
4. Gravity - $3.3m - ($245.5m gross)
5. Ender’s Game - $2.2m - ($57.8m gross)
6. About Time - $1.2m - ($13.8m gross)
7. The Christmas Candle - $980k - ($1.1m gross)
8. Cloudy 2 - $835k - ($114.2m gross)
9. The Book Thief - $605k - ($1.3m gross)
10. Despicable Me 2 - $342k - ($366.4m gross)
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