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Weekend Predictions: How Hot will Catching Fire Burn?

November 22nd, 2013

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire poster

The weekend before Thanksgiving is one of the best weekends of the year to release a monster hit, and this year we get The Hunger Games: Catching Fire. If Catching Fire doesn't break the record for biggest opening weekend in November, it will be seen as a huge shock. It has a chance at topping Iron Man 3's opening weekend and securing top spot for the year. Catching Fire isn't the only film opening wide this weekend, but to call Delivery Man counter-programing is an understatement. It might not crack $10 million, but that will still be enough to earn a spot in the top five. This weekend last year was the Thanksgiving long weekend, so it is a little hard to compare the two and judge which one is stronger. Catching Fire should easily earn more than the top five did over the three-day weekend, perhaps even more than the top six or seven earned, but the real test will come next weekend when we can compare this Thanksgiving to last year's.

The Hunger Games opened in Spring of 2012 and most analysts were rather bullish about the film's chances, but I don't think anyone saw a $150 million opening weekend and a $400 million domestic total coming. Analysts won't be caught off guard this time. The Hunger Games: Catching Fire will record be the biggest weekend in the month of November. Not just November, 2013, but all Novembers in the past. Currently the record is held by The Twilight Saga: New Moon at $142 million. If Catching Fire doesn't make at least that, it would be a real shock. On the high end, it could reach more than $180 million. This isn't outrageous. Firstly, the film's reviews are a step up from the previous film's. Secondly, look at the film's opening in Brazil. The Hunger Games earned $3.15 million, while Catching Fire earned $5.26 million just last weekend. While it is possible the film will top $180 million over the next three days, that is probably too much to hope for. $170 million might also be too much to hope for. However $168 million isn't. By the end of Thanksgiving, it will be the third biggest hit of the year, perhaps even the second biggest.

The Best Man Holiday should remain in second place, because Thor: The Dark World will get crushed by direct competition. It won't have great legs, because while Catching Fire isn't direct competition, it is certainly strong enough competition that a drop-off of nearly 50% is very likely. That would still leave it with $16 million and push its running tally to $54 million. This is likely more than enough to cover its production budget and if it can stick around in theaters for a while it could break even just on its domestic numbers.

After two weeks on top, Thor: The Dark World will be pushed into third place, likely with just over $14 million. The film's reviews are good, but the competition is simply better. That said, $14 million this weekend and Thanksgiving long weekend next weekend will keep the film on pace to reach $200 million.

Delivery Man is the only other wide release of the week and it will slip into fourth place basically by default. Vince Vaughn stars as a man who was a sperm donor who learns his sperm was used to to father more than 500 kids. It's based on a Canadian film called Starbuck, which did well in limited release. Most critics are saying this film is simply not as good as the original. Also, Vince Vaughn is on a losing streak at the box office, which will further hurt the film's chances. On the low end, it might fail to reach $10 million this weekend. On the high end, it could compete for second place with $15 million or so. Splitting the difference gives us fourth place and $13 million.

Last Vegas and Free Birds should both earn roughly $5 million, putting them in a tight race for fifth place.


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Filed under: Weekend Preview, Free Birds, Thor: The Dark World, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, Last Vegas, Delivery Man, The Best Man Holiday, Vince Vaughn