By Shawn Robbins
The holiday box office is in full swing thanks to a trio of November blockbusters. The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, Thor: The Dark World, and Frozen helped drive a $1.07 billion month--the second biggest November gross in history, and just 1.8 percent behind last year's penultimate month.
Those top three flicks combined for $545.4 million through November 30, or about 51 percent of the month's total gross. By comparison, November 2012's top three earners (Skyfall, The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn - Part 2, and Wreck-It Ralph) accounted for a somewhat larger share at 58 percent.
Rounding out the top films of the month were The Best Man Holiday, Ender's Game, and Last Vegas. October holdovers Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa and Gravity also showed excellent staying power throughout November. You can view the month's top ten grossers below this story.
November boasted some shining moments, although most of them came in the final week when Lionsgate's Catching Fire broke the November opening weekend record with $158.1 million (besting New Moon's $142.8 in 2009) and proceeded to break the 3- and 5-day Thanksgiving records with $74.2 million and $109.9 million, respectively. Those figures shattered the long-standing records of $57.5 million and $82.4 million held by 2001's Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone. (For those curious, the first Potter's 3-day Thanksgiving weekend gross would be approximately $82 million with today's ticket prices.)
Disney notably dominated the month as well. Thor: The Dark World reaffirmed the "Avengers bump" by posting a significantly higher debut ($85.7 million) than the first film, and is now on pace to become the first $200 million film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe without the presence of Robert Downey, Jr.'s Tony Stark/Iron Man character.
But, it was Walt Disney Animation's Frozen that has impressed most in recent days. Surpassing all expectations before release, the animated musical posted a massive $93.6 million 5-day opening over Thanksgiving weekend (including a $67.4 million 3-day weekend)--blowing away the $68.7 million 5-day start of Tangled back in 2010. The pic also surpassed Toy Story 2's 14-year-old records for 3- and 5-day Thanksgiving openings. With strong word of mouth, rave reviews, and a female-driven audience with few options in December, Frozen will sail past $200 million domestically and is poised to challenge Monsters University ($268.5 million) as Disney's best animated grosser in 2013.
When considering inflation, last month marked the third best November moviegoer attendance since 2005.
The fourth quarter has rung up $1.7 billion since October began, just $61.5 million behind 2012's combined October and November grosses which toppled the previous best of $1.685 billion in 2009.
Year-to-date, 2013 has accumulated $9.87 billion in domestic revenue. That gives 2013 a slim 0.16 percent margin ahead of 2012's pace, and 2.3 percent behind in terms of tickets sold.
Looking ahead: December boasts another competitive release schedule, anchored by December 13's The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug. We expect a decrease in domestic returns from last year's An Unexpected Journey, although the stronger marketing campaign and (rumored) quicker pace of the film could strengthen Smaug's audience retention. December 18 will then see the long-awaited release of Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues, a film which has arguably executed the best pre-release ad campaign of the year through Will Ferrell's viral Dodge Durango commercials. We also expect Tyler Perry's A Madea Christmas (December 13) to ring up solid holiday business.
David O. Russell's American Hustle (limited December 13, wide December 20) and Martin Scorsese's The Wolf of Wall Street should find great success thanks to their star-studded ensembles, while Tom Hanks and Emma Thompson headline the likely crowd-pleasing Saving Mr. Banks (limited December 13, wide December 20). Following those flicks, Ben Stiller shifts his past comedic Christmas gears into the more dramatic-natured The Secret Life of Walter Mitty on December 25. He'll face off against his Meet the Parents co-star, Robert de Niro, and Sylvester Stallone in Grudge Match over a jam-packed Christmas weekend.
Check back in the days and weeks ahead for full analysis on December's high profile releases.
November 2013's Top Domestic Grosses
1. The Hunger Games: Catching Fire ($282.1 million)
2. Thor: The Dark World ($184.6 million)
3. Frozen ($78.7 million)
4. The Best Man Holiday ($61.6 million)
5. Ender's Game ($59.2 million)
6. Last Vegas ($58.1 million)
7. Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa ($56.9 million)
8. Free Birds ($52.9 million)
9. Gravity ($43.2 million)
10. Captain Phillips ($28.5 million)
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The Hunger Games: Catching Fire crossed the half-billion dollar mark this weekend after raking in $92.5 million. The sequel posted a $11.5 million debut in France, three times the gross of the original, and put up a $6.2 million bow in Italy as Catching Fire continues to spread around the world. The Hunger Games sequel has now grossed a total of $573 million worldwide, becoming the tenth film of 2013 to cross the $500 million at the global box office. The film's overseas performance has contributed $276.4 million to its global tally. The top markets for The Hunger Games: Catching Fire are the United Kingdom ($35.3M), Germany ($24.5M), Australia ($22.2M), Russia ($19.6M), Mexico ($16.5M), Brazil ($14.1M), and France ($11.5M). The film will open in India on December 6 and in Japan on December 27.
Gravity continued to rise and added $25.4 million from 54 territories over the weekend. The sci-fi film is a hit in China where it finished its first 13 days in the market with a strong $55.6 million cume. Other top markets for the film include France ($45.7M), the U.K. ($36.8M), South Korea ($28.7M), and Russia ($21.2M). Gravity has grossed a total of $365.6 million overseas and crossed the $600 million global mark this weekend with a $615.3 million worldwide cume.
Germany and Spain were the only major players in Frozen's day-and-date roll out, as the film also premiered in smaller territories like Switzerland, Israel, Portugal, Lebanon, Czech Rep, Croatia, Austria, Poland, Philippines, India, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia and Trinidad. The film opened to $6.8 million (including previews) in Germany and posted a $3.4 million first-place finish ahead of Catching Fire in Spain. Frozen expands to France, the U.K., Russia Belgium, Hungary, Slovakia, Slovenia, and Thailand by next weekend. Frozen grossed a total of $16.7 million in its day-and-date release across 16 overseas territories. The strong performance of Frozen in North America pushed the film to a $110 million global total in its opening frame.
Thor: The Dark World crossed the $400 million mark outside of North America. The Thor sequel grossed $12.2 million in its fifth weekend to reach a $404.2 million overseas total. Thor: The Dark World is on the cusp of hitting $600 million worldwide with a $591.1 million global total. The original Thor film collected a total of $268 million overseas, giving the sequel a 51% advantage over its predecessor with Japan still remaining on the release schedule for February 1, 2014.
The top markets for Thor: The Dark World are China ($50.6M), Russia ($35.6M), the U.K. ($30.9M), Brazil ($26M), Mexico ($22.9M), France ($22.1M), South Korea ($21.1M), Australia ($20.3M), and Germany ($20M). The Thor sequel has now surpassed the lifetime global cume of Iron Man ($585M) and is presenting a 32% improvement above its predecessor's $449 million worldwide total.
The Counselor took competitive openings in Germany and Spain as it added another $5.8 million to its overseas tally. Spanish audiences were eager to see the latest English-language drama starring Javier Bardem and Penelope Cruz, helping the film reach a $1.4 million third-place finish. The Counselor enjoyed a $1 million fourth-place bow in Germany. Top overseas markets for The Counselor are France ($4.9M), Japan ($4.2M), and the U.K. ($2.8M). The Counselor has grossed $54.8 million worldwide.
A $588K debut in Mexico and $517K bow in Brazil helped Bad Grandpa add another $2.5 million to its overseas tally this weekend. The film has grossed $36.5 million from 27 overseas territories and saw a limited release in both its new Latin American territories, where it only played in a combined 338 screens of the region's two biggest markets. Bad Grandpa is now clear of the $100 million global mark with a worldwide cume of $135.3 million.
Turbo finally inched its way across to the $200 million mark overseas. The animated film reached the milestone after holds in France ($208K), the U.K. ($150K), and Belgium ($115K) bumped the film up to hit its mark. The film has grossed a total of $283 million worldwide.
Epic has a fourth place opening in China after a $3.2 million debut across 2,080 screens. The animated film has now grossed $158.2 million overseas and $265.7 million worldwide.
SUNDAY UPDATE: The Hunger Games: Catching Fire crossed the half-billion dollar mark this weekend after raking in $92.5 million. The sequel posted a $11.5 million debut in France, three times the gross of the original, and put up a $6.2 million bow in Italy as Catching Fire continues to spread around the world. The Hunger Games sequel has now grossed a total of $573 million worldwide, becoming the tenth film of 2013 to cross the $500 million at the global box office. The film's overseas performance has contributed $276.4 million to its global tally. The top markets for The Hunger Games: Catching Fire are the United Kingdom ($35.3M), Germany ($24.5M), Australia ($22.2M), Russia ($19.6M), Mexico ($16.5M), Brazil ($14.1M), and France ($11.5M). The film will open in India on December 6 and in Japan on December 27.
Saturday: The Hunger Games: Catching Fire is on the verge of reaching the half-billion mark at the global box office. The blockbuster sequel grossed a total of $482.25 million through Friday, propelled by a $229 million overseas cume. Lionsgate is expecting a 5-day box office total between $105-$110 for the film during the Holiday weekend in North America. The original Hunger Games grossed $686.5 million worldwide.
Sunday Update: Lionsgate reports that The Hunger Games: Catching Fire grossed an estimated $74.5 million over the weekend and $110.2 million over the five-day Thanksgiving holiday frame. The blockbuster action-adventure sequel starring Jennifer Lawrence established new unadjusted Thanksgiving weekend records in a big way, as it easily outpaced the respective $57.49 million and $82.39 million three-day and five-day grosses of previous record holder Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone way back in 2001. Catching Fire also generated the fourth largest unadjusted second weekend performance of all-time (behind only last year's Marvel's The Avenges, 2009's Avatar, and 2008's The Dark Knight). For the three-day frame, Catching Fire was down 53 percent from last weekend's debut.
The Hunger Games: Catching Fire has grossed a massive $296.56 million in its first ten days of release. That places the film an impressive 19 percent ahead of the $248.48 million ten-day take of last year's The Hunger Games (which fell 62 percent in its second weekend to gross $58.55 million).
Disney's Frozen was also especially impressive over the holiday frame with estimated respective three-day and five-day grosses of $66.71 million and $93.01 million. The latest 3D computer animated film from Walt Disney Animation set new records for the largest three-day and five-day unadjusted Thanksgiving openings of all-time, which had been previously held by 1999's Toy Story 2 with respective three-day and five-day takes of $57.39 million and $80.12 million. Frozen exceeded its already lofty pre-release expectations in a big way and outpaced the $68.71 million five-day start of 2010's Tangled by a very healthy 35 percent. With the addition of a five-day exclusive run in Los Angeles before opening wide on Wednesday, Frozen has grossed $93.36 million to date.
The five-day start for Frozen was especially impressive when considering that there isn't much competition for family audiences scheduled this December, which along with strong word of mouth (the film received an A+ rating on CinemaScore) and critical reviews could help lead to a very lengthy run for the film. The audience breakdown for Frozen skewed towards female moviegoers (57 percent) and moviegoers 25 and under (58 percent). Family moviegoers made up 81 percent of the film's total audience.
Fellow Disney release Thor: The Dark World placed in a distant third with an estimated three-day take of $11.11 million, which represented a 22 percent decline from last weekend. Marvel's blockbuster superhero sequel grossed $15.49 million over the five-day frame. Thor: The Dark World has grossed $186.71 million through 24 days of release. That places Thor: The Dark World 17 percent ahead of the $159.89 million 24-day take of 2011's Thor and leaves the film $13.29 million away from reaching the $200 million domestic milestone.
The weekend's other new major releases not named Frozen left much to be desired. Open Road's Homefront led the pack with respective three-day and five-day debuts of $6.97 million and $9.796 million, though it should be noted that it opened in significantly more locations than The Book Thief, Black Nativity and Philomena did. The action thriller starring Jason Statham and James Franco debuted 17 percent below the $12.00 million five-day Thanksgiving weekend start of 2010's Faster. Homefront received a respectable B rating on CinemaScore.
Over the three-day frame, Fox's The Book Thief grossed $4.85 million (from 1,234 locations), Fox Searchlight's Black Nativity grossed $3.88 million (from 1,516 locations) and The Weinstein Company's Philomena took in $3.79 million (from 835 locations). Respective five-day grosses were $6.40 million for The Book Thief, $5.00 million for Black Nativity and $4.60 million for Philomena. Black Nativity had the most disappointing performance of the trio, given that it had the highest opening weekend expectations of the three and is also likely to be the most front-loaded. Black Nativity did receive a promising A- rating on CinemaScore.
Off to an even softer start was FilmDistrict's Oldboy. The Spike Lee directed remake managed respective three-day and five-day debuts of only $0.85 million and $1.25 million from 583 locations. Obviously, Oldboy won't be in theatres for long after its poor performance this weekend.
Saturday Update: Lionsgate reports this morning that The Hunger Games: Catching Fire earned another $31.25 million on Black Friday, up 110 percent from its Thanksgiving Day haul. That brings the sequel up to a $253.2 million domestic haul through 8 days of release, 33 percent ahead of the pace of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part I. BoxOffice projects Catching Fire will bring in $74 million for its sophomore weekend as part of a record $109.7 million five-day Thanksgiving window (topping 2001's Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone which grossed $82.39 million).
Disney's Frozen increased 142 percent from Thanksgiving Day to $26.86 million on Friday, keeping it significantly ahead of the opening performance of any recent Walt Disney Animation film with $53.5 million bagged in just three days. By comparison, Tangled earned $39.5 million over the same Wednesday-Friday holiday frame in 2010.
Frozen is successfully capturing an audience that has been underserved in recent weeks: families, once again proving that female-leaning films can succeed even in a competitive marketplace. Stellar reviews have been driving buzz for the film, and early word of mouth appears quite strong with 91 percent Flixster users approving of or still anticipating seeing the film. BoxOffice is projecting a $67 million 3-day weekend gross for Frozen, making for a stellar 5-day debut of $93.3 million.
Open Road Films reports that Homefront accounted for $2.632 million on Friday, marking an 88 percent jump from its second day of release on Thanksgiving. The Jason Statham-James Franco thriller has brought in $5.46 million through its first three days (19 percent less than 2010's pre-Thanksgiving opener from CBS Films, Faster) and is on pace for a $6.6 million 3-day weekend and $9.4 million 5-day start. Word of mouth appears to be on the low end of modest with 70 percent of Flixster users giving their approving vote.
Looking at this weekend's lower profile releases: The Book Thief swiped $1.9 million yesterday, giving it a projected $4.8 million 3-day weekend and $6.4 million 5-day start. Meanwhile, Black Nativity added $1.57 million on Friday as it remains on track for disappointing $3.9 million 3-day and $5.0 million 5-day frames.
Friday Update: Lionsgate's The Hunger Games: Catching Fire and Disney's Frozen both continued to impress on Thanksgiving Day. Both films held up relatively well on Thursday for films of their size on Thanksgiving and both films are still on pace to top the current all-time unadjusted five-day Thanksgiving weekend record of $82.39 million set way back in 2001 by Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone.
The Hunger Games: Catching Fire was down 28 percent from Wednesday to gross an estimated $14.9 million on Thursday. That represented the largest unadjusted Thanksgiving Day gross of all-time (topping the $13.14 million take of 1999's Toy Story 2) and places the film's Wednesday and Thursday total at $35.7 million (Wednesday's estimate has been revised slightly upwards to $20.8 million). Catching Fire has grossed a massive $225.06 million in its first week of release. That represents the sixth largest seven-day total of all time and was 17 percent stronger than the $189.93 million seven-day start of last year's The Hunger Games. Based on grosses for Wednesday and Thursday, BoxOffice is currently projecting respective three-day (Friday through Sunday) and five-day grosses of $70.3 million and $106.0 million for Catching Fire.
Frozen was down a similar 27 percent from Wednesday to gross an estimated $11.09 million on Thursday. The latest computer animated film from Walt Disney Animation has grossed a stronger than expected $26.3 million on Wednesday and Thursday. That is 32 percent stronger than the $19.94 million two-day start of 2010's Tangled (which fell 32 percent on Thanksgiving Day to gross $8.07 million). BoxOffice is currently projecting respective three-day and five-day takes of $63.7 million and $90.0 million for Frozen.
Fellow Disney release Thor: The Dark World held steady in a distant third place with an estimated $2.04 million. That represented a 13 percent decline from Wednesday's performance. Thor: The Dark World has grossed $175.60 million through three weeks of release. The superhero sequel from Marvel is currently on pace for respective three-day and five-day holiday grosses of $11.0 million and $15.4 million.
Grosses for the weekend's lower profile major releases remained soft on Thanksgiving Day. Open Road's Homefront was up 2 percent over Wednesday to gross an estimated $1.43 million, Fox's The Book Thief was up 14 percent to gross $0.825 million and The Weinstein Company's Philomena was up 15 percent to gross $0.434 million. Meanwhile, Fox Seachlight's Black Nativity was up a sizable 55 percent over Wednesday, but the film's Thursday take of $0.680 million was still quite disappointing.
Based on grosses for Wednesday and Thursday, BoxOffice is currently projecting respective five-day hauls of $9.1 million for Homefront, $5.8 million for The Book Thief, $4.0 million for Black Nativity and $3.3 million for Philomena.
Thursday Update: Lionsgate's The Hunger Games: Catching Fire and Disney's Frozen were both simply massive on Wednesday. While it is still early, both films appear set to top the current all-time unadjusted five-day Thanksgiving weekend record of $82.39 million set way back in 2001 by Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone. Before yesterday, Catching Fire had been widely expected to top that record, but Frozen had not.
Catching Fire took first place on Wednesday with an estimated $20.7 million. That represented a strong 30 percent jump over Tuesday's already impressive performance. Catching Fire surpassed the $200 million domestic milestone on Wednesday and has grossed $207.06 million in its first six days of release. That places Catching Fire 14 percent ahead of the $181.76 million six-day start of last year's The Hunger Games. Based on Wednesday's performance, BoxOffice is currently projecting respective 3-day (Friday through Sunday) and 5-day Thanksgiving weekend takes of $68.0 million and $103.0 million. That would place The Hunger Games: Catching Fire within shouting distance of the $300 million domestic milestone by the end of the weekend.
Frozen was also impressive on Wednesday with an estimated opening day performance of $15.21 million. The latest 3D computer animated film from Walt Disney Animation is on track to exceed expectations after it opened 28 percent stronger than the $11.87 million opening day performance of 2010's Tangled. With the addition of a five-day exclusive run in Los Angeles, Frozen has grossed $15.56 million to date. The film's opening day performance was especially impressive when considering that there isn't much competition for family audiences scheduled this December, which along with strong word of mouth and largely positive critical reviews could help lead to a very lengthy run for the film. BoxOffice is currently projecting respective 3-Day and 5-Day Thanksgiving weekend grosses of $60.5 million and $86.0 million for Frozen.
After a decade of largely lackluster grosses, Walt Disney Animation has certainly rebounded in the last few years with the performances of Tangled, last year's Wreck-It Ralph and now Frozen. The next film from Walt Disney Animation, Big Hero 6, is scheduled to be released in theatres on November 7, 2014.
Fellow Disney release Thor: The Dark World finished in a distant third on Wednesday with an estimated $2.34 million. Marvel's blockbuster superhero sequel was up 21 percent over Tuesday. Thor: The Dark World has grossed $173.56 million through 20 days, which places the film 16 percent ahead of the $149.41 million 20-day take of 2011's Thor. BoxOffice is currently projecting respective 3-day and 5-day holiday grosses of $11.5 million and $16.3 million for Thor: The Dark World.
The weekend's new major releases not named Frozen were all off to rough starts on Wednesday. Open Road's Homefront led the pack with an estimated $1.4 million. That places the action thriller starring Jason Statham and James Franco on pace for respective three-day and five-day starts of $6.1 million and $9.0 million.
Fox's The Book Thief grossed just $725,000 on its first day of wide release. That brings the early total for the drama to $2.18 million through Wednesday. Look for The Book Thief to earn respective three-day and five-day takes of $4.2 million and $5.7 million.
The news was worse for Fox Searchlight release Black Nativity, which managed only $440,000 on Wednesday. Despite a noteworthy cast that includes Forest Whitaker, Angela Bassett and Jennifer Hudson, at the end of the day there simply wasn't room for Black Nativity in the marketplace after the stronger than expected performance of The Best Man Holiday earlier this month. Black Nativity is on pace for disappointing respective three-day and five-day starts of $2.6 million and $3.5 million.
The Weinstein Company's Philomena finished just behind Black Nativity (albeit in roughly half as many theatres), with $377,000 on Wednesday. The drama starring Judi Dench and Steve Coogan is on track for three-day and five-day grosses of $2.5 million and $3.3 million.
Check back throughout the weekend for further updates on the Thanksgiving weekend box office.