‘Hunger Games: Catching Fire’ Tracking for Massive $185M Box-Office Opening

'Hunger Games: Catching Fire' Tracking for Massive $185M Box-Office Opening

The Jennifer Lawrence sequel looks like a record-breaker but lack of 3D could keep Nov. 22 debut from topping “Avengers” and “Iron Man 3”

“The Hunger Games: Catching Fire” is tracking for an opening weekend that could go as high as $185 million when it debuts on Nov. 22, based on box-office marketing data released Thursday.

The higher pre-release tracking goes, the less reliable it becomes, and we're still three weeks away from the opening. But the Jennifer Lawrence sci-fi sequel looks like it will be a box-office monster for distributor Lionsgate Entertainment.

The distributor views the numbers more conservatively, and is at this point projecting an opening between $140 million and $150 million, citing the crowded marketplace which will include two major Disney releases: “Thor: The Dark World” (Nov. 8) and the animated “Frozen” (Nov. 27).

If it does hit that high-end mark however, “Catching Fire” would be the year's biggest opening, ahead of the $174 million May debut of “Iron Man 3.” And it would be within striking distance of the all-time record for a weekend debut of $207 million, established by “The Avengers” in May of 2012. The record for a November opening, the $142 million rung up by “The Twilight Saga: New Moon” in 2009, is well within reach.

Also read: ‘The Hunger Games: Catching Fire’ Trailer: Katniss Everdeen Is Burning Up (Video)

Disney's two Marvel blockbusters had two major advantages that Jennifer Lawrence‘s Katniss and company won't, however: they opened in the summer when schools are out — and they were 3D.

“Between Jennifer Lawrence‘s exploding popularity and the momentum from the first movie, ‘Catching Fire’ is going to be a cultural phenomenon, and will be significantly bigger than the original at the box office,” said Exhibitor Relations vice-president and senior analyst Jeff Bock.

That's saying something; “The Hunger Games” opened to $152 million in March last year, brought in $408 million domestically and nearly $700 million worldwide.

“Without the 3D, though, I can't see it breaking the opening weekend record,” he said.

Also read: ‘Gravity,’ ‘Hunger Games: Catching Fire’ China Face-Off: Who Wins, Who Loses?

Tickets that included the $3-$4 surcharge for 3D accounted for about 52 percent of the record “Avengers” debut, and 49 percent of the ‘Iron Man 3” total.

“Catching Fire” director Francis Lawrence and the filmmakers opted to maintain continuity and keep the sequel 2D, though certain scenes were shot on Imax film.

That's the approach Christopher Nolan used on “The Dark Knight Rises,” a critical success and box-office behemoth that broke Imax records on the way to a $1.08 billion global haul.

Both “The Avengers” and “Iron Man 3” got major boosts from Imax, and “Catching Fire” should too, overseas as well as domestically.

“Catching Fire” has been among the daily leaders in advance sales at online broker Fandango since it went on sale a month ago, and was running No. 2 Thursday behind another Lionsgate movie, “Ender's Game,” which opens Friday.

Liam Hemsworth and Josh Hutcherson co-star in “Catching Fire,” along with Sam Clafin, Woody Harrelson, Elizabeth Banks, Phillips Seymour-Hoffman, Jenna Malone, Stanley Tucci and Donald Sutherland. It is based on the Susan Collins novel and produced by Nina Jacobson, via her Color Force studio. Michael Arndt and Simon Beaufoy wrote the screenplay.

  • Ferry Silitonga

    Can't wait….

  • Edward Lan

    Long-awaited Hunger Games second installment “Catching Fire” is finally here. I was already impressed with the first series. From trailers, this “Catching Fire” is going to be even better. Not only the visual effects, diversity of casts, dimension of theme, technique of deliverr, and above all, rich content, will definitely wow the viewers. I am glad that there are movies like these are not based on repeated themes like Super Man (I,II,III?), Batman or Bat Woman (I,II,III?), Spider Man (1,2,3?), and collectively “The Avenger”, or “Thor” and the like. Those same old themes based on the exact same old heroes when we were children. Same story since Christopher Reed first stared, except add-on hi-tech bangs and battles. Visual effects taking away story contents in these movies would leave you nothing except images of fire, death, arcade lights, that's one reason that I welcome the movies like Hunger Games series for a change.

    • GOTG is the new StarWars

      Ridiculous. None of the Avengers or the upcoming movies are based on “the same old heroes from when we were children”. Not even close.

      Spider-Man's film rights are owned by Sony, so they don't count.

  • Betsy

    People go to the movies to be entertained. They may see special effects, explosions, be wowed by 3D and the like, and go home satisfied with what they paid for their ticket stub. They may tell others to go and see a movie, too. There's nothing wrong with that, But beloved films are made from great stories. Hard-core fans of the Hunger Games know how good this story is. From what we've seen so far, Lionsgate has invested wisely and stayed true to the books. In doing so, people will not just be entertained and tell others to go see Catching Fire. They will be compelled to return and see the movie again. And in doing so, Lionsgate will make a boat load of money, as it should.

  • john

    these dollar figures are a ridiculous way to track records. Obviously ticket prices have gone up and up and up. There are always going to be movies that come along and break these dollar figure records with inflation, and the ever-rising costs of tickets. So a movie released today that sells one million tickets is going to pull in around 12 million or so (assuming a $12.00 average ticket price). But back in the 50's or 60's what was the price of a ticket $1.00, maybe, I don't know. So a movie back then that sells one million tickets is only going to pull in 1 million. VERY SKEWED. They should just track the number of tickets sold.