"The Hunger Games: Catching Fire" blazed past box-office expectations with an enormous global haul in its debut weekend, earning $161.1 million in the U.S. alone. The second film in the dystopian series was one of the most anticipated of 2013 and should easily surpass the first movie's box office total by the end of its theatrical run.
"The Hunger Games," released in 2012, was a huge success, earning $691.2 million globally, $408 million domestically and $283.2 million foreign, and earned $152.5 million in its opening weekend, Box Office Mojo reports. The adaptation of the first novel of Suzanne Collins' series had a built-in audience, given the books' popularity. "Catching Fire" is building upon the success of the first film, as well as on the increased popularity of star Jennifer Lawrence, to become an even bigger pop-culture phenomenon. A "Sesame Street" parody and a "Saturday Night Live" hosting gig for co-star Josh Hutcherson were just a few "Catching Fire"-related events.
According to the Hollywood Reporter, the $161.1 million earned by "Catching Fire" is the biggest November opening ever in the U.S. and the fourth-biggest opening of all time. "The Avengers" claims the biggest opening ever, with $207.4 million, followed by "Iron Man 3" with $171.4 million and "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2" with $169.2 million. Adding to the "Catching Fire" movie's success is the massive overseas response, with THR reporting the sequel doing twice the opening business as the first film in some foreign markets. The movie debuted in Brazil last week and 64 countries this week and has earned $146.6 million overseas to date, for a global total of $307.7 million.
"Catching Fire" played well with audiences, earning an "A" rating with CinemaScore, and pulled in more men, showing a 12 percent increase in male attendance vs. the first film, THR reports. With its stunning debut, "Catching Fire" is expected to outperform "The Hunger Games" even with its bigger estimated budget, a reported $130 million compared to $78 million.
The reigning box office champ, "Thor: The Dark World," slipped to second place, earning $14.1 million in its third week in theaters. To date, "Thor 2" has already beaten the entire theatrical run of the original "Thor," earning $167.8 million domestically and $381 million overseas for a worldwide total of $548.8 million. In 2011, "Thor" earned $449.3 million worldwide in its theatrical run.
"The Best Man Holiday" continued to perform well, earning $12.5 million as it dropped to third. The week's only other widely released film, "Delivery Man," finished in fourth. That film, which stars Vince Vaughn, was projected to earn around $13 million by Box Office Mojo but fell short, earning just $8.2 million in its debut. The top five were rounded out by "Free Birds," which earned $5.3 million in its fourth week.
The Thanksgiving box office could be interesting as "Catching Fire" faces some competition from Disney's "Frozen," opening Wednesday. With no family films released in the last few weeks, except for "Free Birds," the animated film could be a big hit.