Weekend Box Office: The Hunger Games 'Catching Fire' Just Propelled Itself Into the Record Books

Weekend Box Office: Lionsgate's The Hunger Games: Catching Fire competes with Disney's Thor: The Dark World and Time Warner's The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug

Jennifer Lawrence stars as Katniss Everdeen in The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, Image source: Lionsgate

If you've ever doubted the growing influence of Suzanne Collins' The Hunger Games trilogy, look no further than the massive weekend box office debut of The Hunger Games: Catching Fire from Lionsgate  (NYSE: LGF  ) and Summit Entertainment.

The sequel has already garnered $161.1 million in gross ticket receipts from U.S. audiences alone, easily setting a new record for the highest-ever November weekend launch -- a mark previously held by 2009's The Twilight Saga: New Moon from Summit -- roughly two years prior to its acquisition by Lionsgate, mind you -- which earned $142.8 million during its own first weekend.

What's more, Catching Fire secured its place as the fourth-largest domestic opening in history, trailing only the $207.4 million earned by Disney's (NYSE: DIS  ) Marvel's The Avengers in 2012, $174.1 million from Iron Man 3 earlier this year, and $169.2 million from Time Warner's (NYSE: TWX  ) Harry Potter and the Deathy Hallows Part 2 in 2011.

In addition, and lending credence to the significantly larger role international sales are expected to play this time around, Catching Fire has already earned $146.6 million overseas. That's nearly 150% more than its predecessor had gathered from foreign viewers at this point in 2012. As it stands, I think it's safe to say both the first film and increased interest in its namesake books have sufficiently whetted the worldwide appetite for The Hunger Games franchise.

Catching Fire wasn't alone

Of course, we shouldn't forget to see how everybody else held up at this weekend's box office.

The only other unfortunate newcomer came in the form of Disney's Delivery Man, which earned fourth place with just $8.2 million stateside. Including international sales, Delivery Man's worldwide total came to $9.4 million.

In holdover news, Disney's own $170 million sequel in Thor: The Dark World made another $14.1 million during its third week, bringing its domestic total to $167.8 million. That said, Thor: The Dark World continues to enjoy solid international interest, and has earned over $548.8 million globally so far.

Meanwhile, Comcast (NASDAQ: CMCSA  ) Universal's The Best Man Holiday also continued to ring the register in its second week, earning another $12.5 million in the U.S. for a revised domestic-only total of $50.4 million. But don't let the small numbers fool you; given its tiny $17 million production budget, The Best Man Holiday has proven a runaway financial success for Comcast.

Finally, Relativity Media's animated Thanksgiving effort in Free Birds showed strong box office legs, earning another $5.3 million in its fourth weekend for a total of $48.6 million. That's still not enough to match its lofty $55 million budget, but I wouldn't be surprised if Free Birds managed to gain some ground next week given its timely holiday release.

Coming up next...

Next weekend, Disney's bringing its latest family-friendly animated film to thousands of theaters with Frozen, which is widely expected to do quite well. Still, I wouldn't expect Frozen to have a significant negative effect on the performance of the comparatively thrilling, violent Catching Fire, which is primarily enabled by its largely young-adult target audience.

As a result, the next significant threat lies in the Dec. 13 release of The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, with which Time Warner's Warner Bros. hopes to repeat the massive $1 billion theatrical run of last year's The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. I see no reason Smaug won't bring out fans of The Hobbit franchise en masse, but by then you can bet Catching Fire will have grabbed the lion's share of its already massive run.

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Read/Post Comments (3) | Recommend This Article (2)

Comments from our Foolish Readers

Help us keep this a respectfully Foolish area! This is a place for our readers to discuss, debate, and learn more about the Foolish investing topic you read about above. Help us keep it clean and safe. If you believe a comment is abusive or otherwise violates our Fool's Rules, please report it via the Report this Comment Report this Comment icon found on every comment.

  • Report this Comment On November 25, 2013, at 2:31 PM, tonypar wrote:

    please give me your opinon on why LGF took such a big hit today ? Everything looked great on Friday!!!

  • Report this Comment On November 25, 2013, at 3:14 PM, TMFSymington wrote:

    @tonypar, Looks like profit-taking considering even after the drop, shares are up around 84% year-to-date. What's more, some projections had hoped for 'Catching Fire' to even exceed the $174 million taken in by 'Iron Man 3' earlier this year, so could be a response to the film's record weekend not living up to unrealistic expectations.

    Personally, I wouldn't be too concerned about the drop. Remember, even after book two's stellar box office run, LGF still can look forward to digital and physical media sales down the road, then is splitting the third book into two separate films. In the meantime, IMHO, these short-term fluctuations don't change anything about LGF's long-term story.

    Fool on,

    Steve

  • Report this Comment On November 25, 2013, at 5:52 PM, willADan wrote:

    I'm predicting a bounce back by Lionsgate. With that said, it is not the only company benefiting from The Hunger Games success. Check out this Motif Investing portfolio and judge for yourself! http://goo.gl/ovCDDN #TheHungerStocks

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