BOX OFFICE REPORT November 22-24, 2013(estimates from BoxOfficeMojo.com)
TOP 51. Catching Fire ($161.1 million)2. Thor: The Dark World ($14.1 million)3. Best Man Holiday ($12.5 million)4. Delivery Man ($8.2 million)5. Free Birds ($5.3 million)
To the surprise of absolutely no one, Catching Fire was the weekend's No. 1 movie by a ridiculously large margin. Its estimated $161.1 million take is good enough for the fourth-highest opening weekend ever, just barely topping last summer's The Dark Knight Rises. You can chalk it up to the right combination of hype, good reviews and the unstoppable force that is Jennifer Lawrence. It may not top the original's $400 million, but if it does, it won't just be teenage girls squealing over Peeta and Gale. Like 2008's The Dark Knight, this sequel is a huge step up for the series. I'll even be seeing it again before it leaves theaters. To put this into perspective: the latest Thor movie has made $167.8 million in three weeks. Catching Fire should beat that by Monday.
Sadly, Delivery Man couldn't even deliver a double-digit opening. Ken Scott's remake of his French-Canadian comedy Starbuck managed a poor $8.2 million. Still, it's the kind of movie that should do well on video and cable for years to come. Don't feel too bad that it got slated by Katniss Everdeen.
The rest of the top five looked very similar, as The Best Man Holiday topped $50 million and Thor: The Dark World looks on pace to beat the original.
Outside the top 5: - This Weekend's Indie Champ: Pay no attention to the special limited engagement for Frozen. Disney has a practice of holding elaborate early screenings, with tickets ranging into the hundreds of dollars. It's all for the glitz and to claim to incredible opening averages (in this case $238,000 on one screen). The real independent champ is Philomena, starring Dame Judi Dench as a woman trying to track down the child she gave up for adoption long ago. It averaged $33,425 on each of its four screens. It will likely be playing in your city by next weekend.
- The answer is a definitive "No" for Is the Man Who is Tall Happy?, a series of conversations between Michel Gondry and Noam Chomsky. It opened on 33 screens but only managed a pathetic $964 per screen. But let's be honest: Noam Chomsky never seems happy.
- Congratulations to Captain Phillips, which finally passed $100 million. It's Paul Greengrass' first non-Bourne movie to do so. If you haven't seen it, catch it before it leaves theaters.
Next week:It's the annual Thanksgiving bloodbath, with four new releases vying for a chance to come in second to Catching Fire. Frozen, the latest animated Disney musical, has the best chance. I'd be shocked if it made less than $60 million, which means it will be a photo finish with Catching Fire. Homefront (aka Jason Statham vs. James Franco, Meth Dealer) will be the big loser. It shouldn't make more than $10 million. The same goes for Spike Lee's remake of Korean cult hit Oldboy. That leaves Black Nativity, based on the libretto by Langston Hughes, to be the regularly scheduled "surprise hit." It should hit $20 million easy. Holocaust drama The Book Thief also expands.