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Box Office: ‘The Hunger Games: Catching Fire’ Blazes & Breaks Records As 5th Largest All-Time Opening Weekend

Box Office: 'The Hunger Games: Catching Fire' Blazes & Breaks Records As 5th Largest All-Time Opening Weekend

Exceeding already great expectations as the highly-anticipated sequel to “The Hunger Games” (which opened with $152.5 million), “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire” made a jaw-dropping, predecessor-surpassing $161.1 million (already making back its reported $130 million budget domestically) and averaged $38,704 per theater. Update: Lionsgate’s early estimates were off, “Catching Fire” grossed $158 million in its opening weekend.

 This opening weekend marks not only the top opening for star Jennifer Lawrence (beating out her previous bests “The Hunger Games” and “X-Men: First Class” with $55.1 million) and Lionsgate (beating out “The Hunger Games” and “The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 2” with $141.1 million), but also the top November opening (toppling “The Twilight Saga: New Moon” and its $142.8 million) and 4th 5th largest overall opening of all time (“The Dark Knight Rises” still holds the #4 spot with $160.9 million). Within two installments, the dystopian young adult series (based on the Suzanne Collins‘ novels) has already made $569.1 million domestically, putting it on par with, and with the possibility of exceeding, megablockbusters ‘Harry Potter’ (total: $2.4 billion, average: $298.8 million) and ‘Twilight’ (total: $1.3 billion, average: $272.7 million). With Disney‘s “Frozen” and the “Oldboy” remake to contend with next weekend, it’s safe to say that ‘Catching Fire’ will stay on top for a bit longer. With “The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug” (opening December 13th) and “Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues” (opening December 20th) looking like the big threats on the horizon, ‘Catching Fire’ may exceed the four-week stretch at number one of its predecessor.

Falling behind and suffering the most at the hands of Katniss (arrows beat hammer?), “Thor: The Dark World” fell in domestic ticket sales by 61.4% and made $14.1 million for the weekend. “The Best Man Holiday” made $12.5 million, crossing the domestic $50 million mark with a running total of $50.4 million (yep a sequel is on the way).

Trailing the tope three, “Delivery Man” failed to deliver (we couldn’t help it) with $8.2 million. In terms of Vince Vaughn‘s career, “Delivery Man” follows such punchlines as “The Internship” ($17.3 million), “The Watch” ($12.7 million) and “The Dilemma” ($17.8 million) and managed to do worse than the 1998 “Psycho” remake, which opened with $10 million (not adjusting for inflation).

With Thanksgiving right around the corner, “Free Birds” flew off with $5.3 million. Still breathing in sixth, “Last Vegas” raked in $4.4 million and crossed the $50 million mark with a running total of $50.4 million. Also still breathing in seventh, “Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa” made $3.5 million and is nearing the $100 million mark with a running total of $95.5 million. In an equilibrium eighth spot in eighth week, “Gravity” made $3.3 million. In ninth, “12 Years A Slave” expanded to 1,474 theaters (up by 63) and made $2.8 million. In its first weekend in the top ten, “Dallas Buyers Club” expanded to 666 theaters (up by 482) and made $2.7 million. 

As for specialty box office, Stephen Frears‘s “Philomena” led the pack this weekend, with the second best PTA of the weekend (after ‘Catching Fire’). Starring Judi Dench and Steve Coogan, the film about a woman looking for her son who had been given up for adoption years ago and the journalist helping her search opened in 4 theaters and made $133,716, averaging $33,429 per theater. In second and its second week at the box office, Paolo Sorrentino‘s “The Great Beauty” expanded to 3 theaters and made $54,775, averaging $18,252 per theater. At Cannes, our own Kevin Jagernauth described the Fellini-esque film as “a journey worth taking; a travelogue through memory and dreams, in which life is greatest fiction we could ever create,” and we second that opinion full-heartedly as the film with its beautiful imagery and haunting music is the sort that stays with you for weeks, if not years, after the final credits roll. In third and also its second week, Alexander Payne‘s “Nebraska” screened in 28 theaters and made $350,000, averaging $12,500 per theater. Starring Bruce Dern and Will Forte, the film follows a son and his elderly father on a road trip from Montana to Nebraska in order to claim a million-dollar prize and there’s buzz that Dern may get an Oscar nomination, if not the award itself. In fourth and after closing this year’s DOC NYC, Michel Gondry‘s “Is The Man Who Is Tall Happy?” opened in 3 theaters and made $31,760, averaging $10,620 per theater. The animated documentary captures the life and career of Noam Chomsky through a series of interviews with Gondry, brought to life visually with hand-drawn animation. In fifth and its third week, Brian Percival‘s “The Book Thief,” a Holocaust drama based on the bestselling novel of the same name, screened in 70 theaters and made $605,000, averaging $8,643 per theater.    

1. The Hunger Games: Catching Fire (Lionsgate) – $161,125,000

2. Thor: The Dark World (Buena Vista) – $14,117,000 ($167,837,000)

3. The Best Man Holiday (Universal) – $12,522,000 ($50,391,000)

4. Delivery Man (Buena Vista) – $8,125,000

5. Free Birds (Relativity Media) – $5,300,000 ($48,594,000)

6. Last Vegas (CBS Films) – $4,400,000 ($53,926,000)

7. Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa (Paramount) – $3,450,000 ($95,451,000)

8. Gravity (Warner Bros.) – $3,305,000 ($245,503,000)

9. 12 Years a Slave (FoxSearchlight) – $2,800,000 ($29,293,000)

10. Dallas Buyers Club (Focus Features) – $2,770,000 ($6,450,000)

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