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Box Office: ‘The Hunger Games: Catching Fire’ & ‘Frozen’ Break Thanksgiving Records; ‘Oldboy’ Tanks

Box Office: 'The Hunger Games: Catching Fire' & 'Frozen' Break Thanksgiving Records; 'Oldboy' Tanks

Blazing at the box office, “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire” shot out the other tributes and made a whopping $74.5 million this weekend, part of an even more eye-popping $110.1 million for the five-day Thanksgiving holiday weekend (shattering the $82.4 million record set by “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone“).

Entering its second week, ‘Catching Fire’ has a domestic running total of $296.5 million and a worldwide total of $573 million (beating out the domestic $269.3 million and the worldwide $384.3 million of its predecessor “The Hunger Games” in its second week). Whereas last weekend the film topped the ranks of all recent uber-successful YA series (breaking records set by ‘Twilight‘ and ‘Harry Potter‘ franchises), this weekend it’s joined the big boys with its second weekend ranking fourth of all time behind “The Avengers” ($103.1 million), “Avatar” ($75.6
million), and “The Dark Knight” ($74.5 million), displacing “Iron Man 3
($74.5 million). With little franchise competition in sight (beyond “The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug” opening Dec. 18th), “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire” will continue to raze the box office, with a chance of toppling “Despicable Me 2” ($366.9 million domestic) and a slighter chance of out-duking “Iron Man 3” ($409 million domestic) as the top grossing film of 2013. Agree or disagree, share your thoughts in the comment section below. 

In a very commendable second, “Frozen” opened in wide release (after last weekend’s very limited release at the El Capitan theater in Hollywood) with $66.7 million for the weekend, part of $93.4 million for the five-day weekend (shattering the $80.1 million record set by “Toy Story 2“). Disney’s retelling of the Hans Christian Anderson classic “The Snow Queen” (here’s the 1957 Russian version and the English dub), “Frozen” managed to exceed general expectations, beating out Disney’s other recent animated “Princess” films (Rapunzel reboot “Tangled” opened with $48.8 million, Scottish coming-of-age princess tale “Brave” opened with $66.3 million). Advertised as the best Disney movie since “The Lion King” (thanks to this The Daily Beast review) and with a few great tunes to boot (some including the incomparable Idina Menzel), it should continue to do well with families who don’t want to see young adults battle to the death. 

In third, “Thor: The Dark World” hammered down $11.1 million. In fourth, “The Best Man Holiday” rang in $8.5 million. Starring Jason Statham, James Franco and Winona Ryder, “Homefront” opened in fifth place with an underwhelming $7 million for the three-day weekend. Co-written by Sly Stallone himself, the R-rated film was this weekend’s bit of family-unfriendly counter-programming with a violence and drug-soaked plot—a former DEA agent (Statham) moves to a small town, only to be forced to contend with a meth dealer named Gator (Franco). Though underwhelming, it follows a pattern with rougher-themed films generally not faring well in the last weekend of November—”Killing Them Softly” opened last year against holdover “The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 2” with $6.8 million and “Faster” opened in 2010 against holdover “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part One” in seventh place and with $8.5 million.

In sixth, “Delivery Man” delivered $6.9 million. Expanding from 70 to 1,234 theaters, “The Book Thief” snuck its way onto the leader board in seventh place and took in $4.9 million.

Starring Forest Whitaker, Angela Bassett and Jennifer Hudson, “Black Nativity” opened in eighth place with $3.9 million for the three-day weekend. The Christmas-themed musical failed to rouse its targeted Christian and African American audiences, the latter leaning in favor of “The Best Man Holiday.” For comparison (and without adjusting for inflation), the similarly Christmas-themed and led by an African American cast “The Preacher’s Wife” opened in 1996 with $7.6 million.  

Expanding from 4 to 835 theaters, “Philomena” also made its way onto the leader board in eighth and rustled $3.8 million. In tenth, “12 Years a Slave” raked in $3 million.

To the shock of many, Spike Lee‘s “Oldboy” remake/reinterpretation/joint placed in 17th at the box office, missing the top ten by a massive margin, and barely scraped a million from 583 theaters, making $850,000 for the three-day weekend and $1.25 million for the five-day (it’s estimated the movie might not even gross $3 million in total and FilmDistrict won’t be releasing it wide after this). With these initial figures, the Josh Brolin and Elizabeth Olsen-starring “Oldboy” is in the running for one of the biggest bombs of the year, and it would be a holiday miracle if the film managed to recoup its $30 million production budget. Adjusting for ticket-price inflation, “Oldboy” marks Lee’s third worse-grossing film of all time, performing worse than Lee’s “Bamboozled” and only better than “She Hate Me” and “Red Hook Summer.” For more context, “Jonah Hex” made
over five times in its opening weekend ($5.4 million) than “Oldboy” then again, that was a wide summer release.   

As for specialty box office, biopics reigned supreme with Justin Chadwick‘s “Mandela: Long Walk of Freedom” leading the way with the largest per theater average at the overall box office and Sini Anderson‘s “The Punk Singer” trailing right behind. Opening in four theaters, the Nelson Mandela biopic (based on Mandela’s own autobiography of the same name) starring Idris Elba made $100,036, averaging $25,077 per theater. In second, the Kathleen Hanna bio-doc opened three theaters and made $24,000, averaging $8,000 per theater. In third, Alexander Payne‘s holdover “Nebraska” expanded from 28 to 102 theater. In fourth, Paolo Sorrentino‘s holdover “The Great Beauty
(Italy’s Best Foreign Language Film entry for this year’s Oscars)
expanded from three to 23 theaters and made $139,000, averaging $6,043 per
theater. In fifth, Vlad Yudin‘s Mickey Rourke-narrated bodybuilding doc “Generation Iron” reduced from two theaters to one and made $5,100.

1. Hunger Games: Catching Fire (Lionsgate) – $74,500,000 ($296,500,000)
2. Frozen (Buena Vista) – $66,713,000 ($93,013,000)
3. Thor: The Dark World (Buena Vista) – $15,493,000 ($186,712,000)
4. The Best Man Holiday (Universal) – $8,491,000 ($63,414,000)
5. Homefront (Open Road Films) – $6,970,000 ($9,795,000)
6. Delivery Man (Buena Vista) – $6,931,000 ($19,453,000)
7. The Book Thief (Fox) – $4,850,000 ($7,856,000)
8. Black Nativity (FoxSearchlight) – $3,880,000
9. Philomena (The Weinstein Company) – $3,789,000 ($4,754,000)
10. 12 Years a Slave (FoxSearchlight) – $3,025,000 ($33,134,000)

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