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.