‘Catching Fire’ Should Break November Record With Possible $160 Million Debut

Sequel gets a jump start in several major overseas territories on Thursday

Let the games begin — again.

Igniting a global frenzy this weekend, starting in a handful of major overseas markets on Thursday, Lionsgate unleashes “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire,” with expectations at north of $150 million domestically, and a possible $300 million-plus weekend worldwide. Other observers think Stateside B.O. could be even higher at more than $160 million, which would easily beat the previous November record-holder, “The Twilight Saga: New Moon.”

Lionsgate launches “Catching Fire” at 4,163 domestic locations, most of which will have 8 p.m. screenings Thursday.

PHOTOS: Jennifer Lawrence, Matt Damon Attend L.A. Premiere

The “Hunger Games” sequel’s domestic prospects have been sky-high for several weeks, even before Disney-Marvel’s “Thor: The Dark World” stampeded into theaters two weeks ago domestically.

Still, most pundits are hesitant to predict a specific amount for “Catching Fire,” though it is clear the film should outdo its predecessor’s $142 million opening in March 2012. Anything beyond that is less certain.

For instance, “Catching Fire” could potentially claim the second-highest domestic opening of all time, eclipsing “Iron Man 3” ($174 million); but  making such claims is tricky considering no other film has reached such heights in November. Currently, “The Twilight Saga: New Moon” holds the largest three-day debut for this month, with $142 million.

PHOTOS: Will ‘Catching Fire’ Break Into Box Office History? Top 10 Opening Weekends of All-Time

To date, Disney-Marvel’s “The Avengers” has the largest domestic opening with $207.4 million while Warner Bros.’ “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows — Part 2” has the biggest worldwide debut with $483 million.

“Catching Fire,” along with Warner-New Line’s “The Hobbit” sequel, “The Desolation of Smaug,” on Dec. 13, will provide the domestic box office with a shot of adrenaline — likely giving 2013 totals the jump needed to safely secure a record. (B.O. has been pacing in line with last year.)

Meanwhile, Disney is braving the “Hunger Games” bonanza by launching DreamWorks’ Vince Vaughn comedy “Delivery Man” at roughly 2,800 domestic playdates on Friday. The film is meant to provide counterprogramming mainly for adults, though “Hunger Games” also has a significant over-25 fanbase.

Internationally, “Catching Fire” — which bowed last weekend in Brazil, where it earned $6.3 million — launches day-and-date in 65 territories, including the United Kingdom, Australia, China, Germany, Mexico, Russia, Spain and South Korea. (France and Italy follow next week.)

“Catching Fire” has a far greater international following now, meaning it should fall within the usual overseas-vs.-domestic gross splits. A Stateside cume of $408 million for the original “Hunger Games” nearly doubled the film’s international tally, at $283 million. That should be reversed for the sequel, a typical occurrence for many tentpoles.

Boosting the film’s prospects is star Jennifer Lawrence who, in addition to winning a best actress Oscar for “Silver Linings Playbook,” has become Hollywood’s newest “It”-girl since the last “Hunger Games” was in theaters, with fans chattering about her haircuts and devil-may-care attitude.

As with the original, “Catching Fire” bows in Imax worldwide and other premium large-format locations. The PLF engagements will help lift the film’s bottom line, considering it doesn’t have 3D to goose grosses.

REVIEW: ‘The Hunger Games: Catching Fire’

Hoping to ignite early word-of-mouth, Disney launches “Frozen” this weekend at the El Capitan in Los Angeles. Exclusive engagement begins Friday, with five showtimes each day and will feature ice-carving performances, as well as on-stage appearances by characters Anna and Elsa before the movie.

“Frozen” launches nationwide on Nov. 22.

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  1. Pardha says:

    The Hunger Games debuted to $152 million not $142 million.

  2. LOL says:

    America loves Jennifer Lawrence.

  3. JC says:

    The first Hunger Games film grossed $152 million on its opening weekend, not $142 million. Welcome to the digital age of journalism, where fact checking is optional!

  4. Carl P says:

    Really. I find it hard to believe. Guess anything is possible. It just looks like a really cheesy movie.

  5. stoptouchingthatmabel says:

    In this day when you can’t even buy a 16 ounce soda or any food with trans-fat in it or a tobacco product until you are 21 even though you can fight and die for your country or even be allowed to smoke the tobacco in a park there is a movie where the government comes to your town and randomly selects a couple of children to fight to the death. Have I got that correct? This is as bad as Avatar I’m sure.

  6. Ineglecttx7@aol.com says:

    And only 3 comments here is really ,wow ,amazing

  7. Ineglecttx7@aol.com says:

    What the hell is wrong with you people ,it’s a frickin movie ,and pretty bad at that ,lol

  8. carlb says:

    what was missing with the twilight series as a father who endured all 5. was they never kept the original director. out of all of them the 1st one was the best. i see with this they roped the same director for all 3 which promises to be allot better than what they did with the twilight series! also as a father i have been roped to endure all 3 with my daughter. can’t wait to see how they upgraded this second one.

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