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Holiday moviegoers remained ravenous for The Hunger Games: Catching Fire on Friday, putting the sequel on course to score one of the best second weekends in the history of the film business, not accounting for inflation.
The Lionsgate pic grossed $31.3 million from 4,163 theaters for a domestic total of $253.3 million and stunning global haul of $482.3 million. If traffic holds at these levels, Catching Fire is poised to gross $110 million-plus for the five-day Thanksgiving stretch (Wednesday-Sunday) and $75 million-plus for the weekend itself in North America.
Costing $130 million to produce, Catching Fire could edge out Avatar ($75.6 million) and The Dark Knight ($75.2 million) to boast the top second weekend (three-day) on record after The Avengers ($103.1 million).
Disney’s 3D animated entry Frozen, opening Wednesday, also continued to soar, grossing $26.9 million from 3,742 locations for a three-day domestic total of $53.5 million and projected five-day debut in the $93 million range.
Loosely based on Hans Christian Andersen‘s classic fairy tale The Snow Queen, Frozen — earning a coveted A+ CinemaScore — tells the story of a fearless princess (Kristen Bell) who sets off on an epic journey to find her sister, whose icy powers have caused an eternal winter. Last weekend, the 3D pic, costing $150 million to make, did big business when it played exclusively at Disney’s El Capitan Theatre in Hollywood.
Between them, Frozen and Catching Fire are serving up a record-breaking Thanksgiving. Frozen is poised to score the top holiday debut of all time, eclipsing the $80.1 million five-day debut of Pixar’s Toy Story 2 in 1999. It’s also destined to score the top opening for a Disney Animation Studios title, besting the $68.7 million debut of Tangled over Thanksgiving in 2010.
Catching Fire, now in its second weekend, will mark the top-grossing Thanksgiving film of any movie, topping previous record-holder Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone ($82.4 million). It also nabbed the best gross ever for Thanksgiving day — $14.9 million from 4,163 theaters — besting the $13.1 million earned by Toy Story 2.
After Frozen, the news was mixed for the other new holiday films.
Action-thriller Homefront, starring Jason Statham, is expected to post a five-day debut in the $9 million range, a so-so start. Homefront, receiving a B CinemaScore, features Statham as a widowed ex-DEA agent who moves to a small town with his daughter, only to have the decision blow up in his face. James Franco and Winona Ryder also star.
Spike Lee‘s Oldboy, playing in 583 theaters Wednesday, is bombing in its North American launch and may only gross $1.2 million for the five days. From a script by Mark Protosevich, the remake of the cult South Korean film stars Josh Brolin, Elizabeth Olsen and Sharlto Copley. Oldboy marks the final release from Peter Schlessel‘s FilmDistrict before Schlessel officially takes over as CEO of Focus Features on Jan. 1.
Among adult-skewing fare, 20th Century Fox’s The Book Thief, Fox Searchlight’s African-American musical Black Nativity and The Weinstein Co.’s Philomena have all landed on the top 10 chart.
Book Thief, opening in in select cities earlier this month in a bid to build word of mouth, expanded into a total of 1,234 theaters on Wednesday and is pacing to post a five-day Thanksgiving gross of $6.5 million. Based on the best-selling novel by Markus Zusak about a young girl living with her foster parents in Nazi Germany, the film stars Geoffrey Rush, Emily Watson, Sophie Nelisse and Ben Schnetzer.
Black Nativity, targeting faith-based consumers and earning an A- CinemaScore, got off to a disappointing start on Wednesday, but improved its standing somewhat on Thursday and Friday. The pic, playing in 1,516 locations and facing tough competition from African-American comedy The Best Man Holiday, should earn $5 million through Sunday.
Directed by Kasi Lemmons and based loosely on Langston Hughes‘ play, Black Nativity‘s ensemble cast is led by Forest Whitaker, Angela Bassett, Tyrese Gibson, Jennifer Hudson and Mary J. Blige.
Stephen Frears‘ critically acclaimed Philomena, now playing in a total of 853 locations, is expected to turn in a five-day gross in the $4 million to $5 million range. The awards contender stars Judi Dench and Steve Coogan.
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