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Box office update: 'Catching Fire' earns $70.5 million on Friday, may open lower than first 'Hunger Games'

UPDATE: Catching Fire opened to $161.1 million, the best November of all time.

On its first Friday in theaters, Lionsgate’s hotly anticipated sequel The Hunger Games: Catching Fire pulled in $70.5 million, a gross that includes $25.3 million that the film earned during Thursday night engagements beginning at 8 p.m.

Catching Fire was projected to open substantially higher than the original Hunger Games, which debuted with $152.5 million in March 2012, but it actually appears headed for a finish in the exact same range, perhaps earning around $150 million over the Friday-to-Sunday period. Though Catching Fire will likely score the best November opening of all time, ahead of The Twilight Saga: New Moon‘s $142.9 million bow, it will need great holds on Saturday and Sunday to take down Iron Man 3‘s $174.1 million opening (which benefitted from a boost from 3-D ticket sales) as the best of 2013, though it’s still a possibility.
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Box office preview: 'The Hunger Games: Catching Fire' targeting the best debut of 2013

Katniss has her bow and arrow aimed squarely at the top of the box office, and The Hunger Games: Catching Fire will easily open at No. 1. But will Catching Fire break The Dark Knight Rises‘ $160.9 million record as the best 2-D opening of all time? And will it surpass Iron Man 3‘s $174 million opening take as the best of 2013? Well, let’s parse this out.

The original Hunger Games opened to a jaw-dropping $152.5 million in March 2012, a figure that Catching Fire should surpass with ease. Even if it somehow doesn’t, the sequel, which cost Lionsgate about $130 million, would be in fine shape. Overseas revenues are expected to be much more robust than they were for the first film, which took in $691.2 million worldwide.

Domestically, The Hunger Games grossed $408 million total, and in the past year and a half, passion for the dystopian series — and its Oscar-winning star Jennifer Lawrence — has only swelled. Catching Fire is thus tracking substantially better than its predecessor, and it should earn at least $160 million this weekend. It should be noted that the original Hunger Games is by far the most popular book in the trilogy, and some viewers may have been drawn to the first film based on their affection for that book alone. However, the vast majority of viewers left the film with a positive reaction, and strong reviews for Catching Fire mean that much of the biggest target demo (women, who made up 61 percent of The Hunger Games‘ audience) will be coming back for more. READ FULL STORY

Box office report: 'Thor' stays on top with $38.5 million, but 'Best Man Holiday' brings the thunder

For the second weekend in a row, Marvel’s $170 million sequel Thor: The Dark World topped the domestic box office chart. The Chris Hemsworth vehicle fell 55 percent to $38.5 million, giving the comic book adaptation $147 million total so far. The Dark World is still on track to easily surpass the original Thor‘s $181 million domestic total in 2011, and it should finish above $200 million.

Internationally, the sequel has already earned more than its predecessor. The Dark World has grossed $332.8 million internationally and $479.8 million worldwide, far more than Thor’s $268 million and $449 million respective finishes. At this point, The Dark World seems headed for a finish above $700 million worldwide.

Thor wasn’t the only success story this weekend. The Best Man Holiday unwrapped an outstanding $30.5 million on opening weekend from 2,024 theaters, yielding an excellent $15,115 venue average — the best in the top-10. The film, which stars Terrence Howard, Taye Diggs, and Regina Hall (among others), opened with $10.7 million on Friday, and then ticked up 15 percent on Saturday to $12 million — a rare boost on a film’s opening weekend that signifies great word-of-mouth. Audiences, which Universal reports were 75 percent female and 87 percent African-American, issued the film a rare “A+” CinemaScore grade. READ FULL STORY

Box office update: 'The Best Man Holiday' mightier than 'Thor' on Friday with $10.7 million, A+ CinemaScore

Talk about stealing someone’s thunder! Universal’s $17 million comedy The Best Man Holiday hammered Thor: The Dark World on its first day at the box office. Holiday, which stars Taye Diggs and Terrence Howard, grossed $10.7 million on Friday (its 1999 predecessor, The Best Man, earned $9 million in its entire opening weekend), which puts it on pace for a weekend right around $30 million. Moreover, the film garnered a rare “A+” CinemaScore grade from polled audiences, which suggests it may have major staying power in the days and weeks to come. READ FULL STORY

Box office preview: 'The Best Man Holiday' won't best 'Thor', but might unwrap a great debut

Just how scared of Thor: The Dark World was Hollywood? Last weekend, not a single studio opened a wide release against it. (Though, About Time did expand into wide release.) And this weekend, only one movie, The Best Man Holiday, will face off against the bearded Norse superhero. Originally, The Wolf of Wall Street was set to open on this date, but Paramount pushed the film to Christmas Day, leaving Holiday as the sole contender. The comedy has no chance of usurping Thor‘s throne, but that doesn’t mean it’s headed for trouble. Here’s how the box office might look over the weekend:

1. Thor: The Dark World – $37 million
Fanboy-fueled superhero movies are destined for hefty second-weekend drops. So are sequels. But superhero sequels? Now that’s a sure bet. The film hammered up over $100 million in its first seven days in theaters ($85.7 million over the weekend), and it may drop by about 55-60 percent in its second frame to $37 million, which will give Thor a domestic total just shy of nearly $145 million against a $170 million budget. READ FULL STORY

Box office report: 'Thor: The Dark World' smashes competition with $86.1 million debut

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Thor: The Dark World debuted mightily atop the domestic box office this weekend, hammering up $86.1 million from 3,841 theaters, which gave Disney’s $170 million 3-D sequel a blazing $22,418 per theater average.

Thanks to the Norse superhero’s increased exposure in last year’s mega-smash The Avengers, The Dark World debuted 31 percent higher than 2011′s Thor, which earned $65.7 million over its first three days in theaters. The film didn’t enjoy as big of a boost as Iron Man 3, which opened with $174.1 million, a 34 percent improvement over Iron Man 2‘s debut — and still the best debut of 2013. READ FULL STORY

Box office update: 'Thor: The Dark World' tops Friday with $31.6 million

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Marvel’s $170 million 3-D sequel Thor: The Dark World topped the box office on its opening Friday, though it proved less mighty than most analysts were expecting.

The film earned $31.6 million yesterday, a 24 percent increase over the original Thor‘s $25.5 million first Friday in 2011. Thor wound up with a $65.7 million opening, and if The Dark World performs similarly it should earn between $75 and $80 million over the Friday-to-Sunday period. That’s certainly not a bad total — but considering Iron Man 3 opened 36 percent higher than Iron Man 2 following The Avengers, it’s pretty disappointing. Audiences issued Thor: The Dark World an “A-” CinemaScore.

In second place, Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa pulled in another $3.4 million on Friday, which should lead to an $11.5 million weekend. The $15 million Paramount film should have about $79 million total by Sunday night.

Last Vegas scored $3.2 million, which will yield about $11 million for its second weekend. CBS Films’ elderly Vegas comedy will have about $37.5 million against a $28 million budget after this weekend.

Ender’s Game plummeted 70 percent from its first Friday to a weak $2.9 million. The film will earn about $10 million for the weekend — giving it a scary low $43 million in its first ten days. Why is that scary? Because it cost Summit a whopping $110 million to produce.

Rounding out the Top 5 was Free Birds, which flapped away with $2.6 million. The Thanksgiving-themed family film will likely only drop by about 30 percent in its sophomore frame, giving the $55 million film $30 million total.

Check back tomorrow for the full box office report.

Box office preview: Can 'Thor: The Dark World' hammer up a $100 million debut?

When The Avengers earned over $600 million in the U.S. and $1.5 billion worldwide last year, Disney eagerly set its sights on Iron Man 3, hoping that the Tony Stark solo show would get a major box office boost thanks to The Avengers‘ exposure — even without a patriotic mega-soldier and a hulking green monster onscreen beside him. Well, Disney’s plan worked — and then some.

Iron Man 3 earned $409 million domestically and $1.2 billion worldwide, and it opened 36 percent above its predecessor Iron Man 2, which topped out at $312 million in the U.S. and $623 million globally. Immediately after Iron Man 3‘s stellar run this summer, prognosticators began speculating whether each individual member of The Avengers team would see such a spike for their spin-off films — which brings us to Thor: The Dark World. READ FULL STORY

Box office report: 'Ender's Game' on top with $28 million; 'Thor' scores mighty $109 million overseas

It’s taken over two decades for Orson Scott Card’s classic sci-fi novel Ender’s Game to make it to the big screen, but all the built-up anticipation didn’t lead to out-of-this-world box office numbers. The film adaptation debuted with $28 million from 3,407 theaters on its first weekend — a start in the same range as Will Smith’s misfire After Earth, which opened with $27.5 million earlier this year. Summit and OddLot Entertainment spent $110 million on the space adventure starring Asa Butterfield and Harrison Ford, but Ender’s Game will need great legs domestically and strong returns overseas to justify its cost (and any potential sequels).

Of course, the film didn’t bomb the way other YA-adaptations like The Host, Beautiful Creatures, or The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones have recently, but its opening was nowhere near the debuts of Twilight or Hunger Games, both of which had less expensive first editions than Ender’s Game. Notably, both of those films targeted young women primarily, while Ender’s Game‘s audience was 58 percent male and 54 percent above the age of 25. Crowds issued the film an average “B+” CinemaScore grade.

Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa held up very nicely in second place, dropping just 36 percent to $20.5 million. That is by far the smallest second-weekend drop for any of the Jackass films, and it gives Paramount’s $15 million prank comedy $62.1 million total after ten days. If Bad Grandpa continues to maintain great holds at the box office, it could exceed $100 million total. Take that, Oscar season! READ FULL STORY

Box office update: 'Ender's Game' lifts off with $9.9 million Friday, 'Last Vegas' cooks 'Free Birds'

Summit and OddLot Entertainment’s $110 million adaptation of Orson Scott Card’s sci-fi classic Ender’s Game blasted off in first place with $9.9 million on Friday. The film, which stars Asa Butterfield and Harrison Ford, will likely gross about $26 million over its first three days, which is more than YA fare like The Mortal Instruments or The Host, but nowhere close to Twilight or The Hunger Games.

Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa held up very nicely in second place with $6.1 million, marking a 52 percent drop from last Friday. (That’s pretty great for a spinoff sequel targeting teen moviegoers, who tend to rush to the theater on opening weekend.) The film will level off for the rest of the weekend and may end up dropping only about 40 percent to $19 million, which would give it $60 million total against a $15 million budget. READ FULL STORY

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