Lionsgate reports this morning that The Hunger Games: Catching Fire officially hauled in a strong $70.5 million for its opening day, including $25.5 million earned from Thursday 8pm and later shows. Based on Friday's results, BoxOffice officially projects the opening weekend will land around $152 million, just under the first film's $152.5 million debut and topping the existing November opening weekend record of $142.8 million (held by The Twilight Saga: New Moon).
Although it didn't reach the most optimistic of expectations, the figure represents a very healthy performance in a more competitive marketplace than the original Hunger Games had to contend with in March 2012. That film banked $67.3 million in its first day with $19.74 million coming from midnight shows. Last year's Twilight finale, Breaking Dawn Part 2, tallied $71.2 million (including $30.4 million from more comparable 10pm Thursday showings).
Early word of mouth appears strong with Catching Fire's Flixster score still sitting at an impressive 94 percent, indicating fans are thrilled with the first sequel. The film's CinemaScore registered an "A".
Disney/DreamWorks' strategy of counter-programming with Delivery Man failed to connect, as expected. The Vince Vaughn comedy managed $2.76 million on Friday, putting it on course for an $8.2 million debut weekend. Although Vaughn still boasts a wide fan base, he's run into string of box office misses lately (The Internship, The Watch, The Dilemma) -- most of which have opened against big blockbusters. Early audience reactions are fairly negative with the comedy-drama's Flixster score at 61 percent (and dropping).
Thor: The Dark World slid 61.4 percent from Friday of last week to $4.06 million for the start of its third frame. The Disney/Marvel pic's drop in the face of new competition was expected, driven partly by its loss of IMAX screens to Catching Fire. BoxOffice projects a $14.5 million weekend. The sequel's domestic tally stands at $157.8 million through 15 days, 17.5 percent ahead of Thor and 21.2 percent behind Skyfall at the same point.
Last weekend's breakout in The Best Man Holiday slid 64.4 percent from its opening day to $3.8 million on Friday. The sequel has banked $41.7 million through its first 8 days and could recover over the upcoming holiday frame if Catching Fire had any major effect on the film's female-heavy audience. BoxOffice is expecting a $12.5 million sophomore weekend.
Additional reporting by Daniel Garris