There is no greater pleasure for a movie studio than seeing the name of its movie make the headlines even in the second week. In this age and time, when movies top one weekend and disappear in the next with such alacrity as a deer that hears the soft steps of a tiger, staying on top of the box-office for even the second weekend is applause worthy. And to achieve that with numbers as these, you are in an elitist league, my friend! The Hunger Games: Catching Fire is the hero for another week, topping the North American box-office despite a number of new releases hitting the market. To add to that, its dip of 53% for the second weekend is even lesser than the 62% dip for the first movie The Hunger Games. Wait, there is more. The previous week saw the long Thanksgiving weekend which stretches for five days, and is usually the time for high earnings for Hollywood movies. Do you want to guess what The Hunger Games: Catching Fire achieved in this five-day period from Wednesday to Sunday? Record-breaking numbers! Its $110 million domestic earnings in this period is the best ever Thanksgiving weekend earnings, and significantly higher than the previous record of $82 million earned by Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone in 2001. With only 10 days spent in the theatres of North America, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire has earned just a few million short of $300 million, and is well on its way to eclipse the $408 million earnings of its predecessor. Did we ever doubt that? Eh, we need to apologize if we did. Worldwide earnings are at $573 million already, and gosh, we are just tired of talking on these smashing figures the movie is throwing at us. We are leaving it here for now, because we are certain that next weekend too we would have to revisit the scales the Girl on Fire is eclipsing.
Say yes to women power! While a film with a lead female character and adapted from a novel written by a woman was scintillating at the top of the box-office, the one just below turns out to be a story about two princesses in a film co-directed by a woman. Disney’s Frozen posted $67 million for the weekend and a $93 million figure for the longer Thanksgiving weekend in the domestic market, which on any other day would have put it on the top spot. But on days like these, coming second is not bad at all! To get a better idea of how good these numbers are, we compare them with some of the other well-known and well-received Disney animated films released in November. Each of these films had a production budget at par or higher than the $150 million reported for Frozen. So as against $67 million earned by Frozen this year on its opening three-day weekend, Chicken Little took in $40 million in 2005, Bolt earned only $26 million in 2008, the successful Tangled earned $49 million in 2010, and the much acclaimed Wreck-It Ralph earned marginally more than $49 million in 2012. In simpler words, Frozen rocked the weekend for Disney! A well executed fairy tale story, which induces the kind of warm feelings that one wishes for as winter approaches, Frozen has been masterfully directed to deserve this recognition. Expect a good foreign run too, and strong revenues from the ensuing DVD/Blu-Ray sales and rental videos as well. Walt Disney Animation Studios is indeed starting to plant its feet firmly again.
With more than $200 million earned on the Thanksgiving weekend by the top two films, there was hardly any audience left for the remaining new releases. Some numbers are in fact so terrible, that we just don’t feel like writing them out of sympathy. Of the new releases, Jason Statham’s Homefront took in close to $7 million to land up on the fifth spot. The man who can be such a big part of the success of The Expendables franchise, and cause the audience to exclaim and shriek with a brief appearance in Fast & Furious 6, is struggling when it comes to standalone films, as his latest solo outings, be it Killer Elite, Safe, Parker and now Homefront, have all opened to less than $10 million. It is time the man takes a relook at the way he is approaching things, for he is too charismatic and too popular to end up with such lame figures. Not much needs to be said about Black Nativity, a musical targeting the African-American audience, when its $4 million opening ends up being less than half of The Best Man Holiday which is targeting a similar audience and is now running in its third week. As for Oldboy, the remake of the 2003 South Korean classic film and one we had considered worth putting in the ‘five movies to watch in November’ category, its failure can make us simply sigh. It opened in only 583 theatres and earned even less than a million dollars over the weekend. With a production budget of $30 million, this surely is one of the biggest bombs of the year, alongside The Fifth Estate and Paranoia. Christmas is going to be frosty for some!
November ends on a solid note for the US box-office, and December looks like it can get better with many star-studded films waiting in line. Four more weekends to go…
Here are the top 5 weekend earners at the US box-office (estimates):
1. The Hunger Games: Catching Fire ($74.5 million; second weekend)
2. Frozen ($66.7 million)
3. Thor: The Dark World ($11.1 million; fourth weekend)
4. The Best Man Holiday ($8.5 million; third weekend)
5. Homefront ($7.0 million)