‘Catching Fire’ lights up weekend box office

‘Catching Fire’ lights up weekend box office

BOX OFFICE TOPS: For the second week, "Catching Fire" is the No. 1 movie in America. Photo: Reuters

By Ronald Grover and Chris Michaud

LOS ANGELES/NEW YORK (Reuters) – “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire” continued to light up the box office through the Thanksgiving holiday weekend, collecting a record $110.2 million over five days to surpass a hefty opening for Disney’s new animated film “Frozen,” and bringing its 10-day total to nearly $300 million.

Moviegoers flooded theaters in record-setting numbers, dropping $294 million at box offices, besting the $290 million spent a year ago over the five-day period.

“Catching Fire” and “Frozen” both beat the Thanksgiving box office record of $82.4 million set by “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone” in 2001.

“Frozen,” which critics lavishly praised, recorded ticket sales of $93 million at U.S. and Canadian theaters for the five-day holiday period that began on Wednesday, according to studio estimates compiled by Reuters. That far exceeded industry projections of about $63 million.

“Frozen,” inspired by “The Snow Queen” fairytale, features the voice of Kristen Bell as a Scandinavian princess intent on finding her sister, the Queen, who has the power to freeze anything with a touch and accidentally sets off a long winter that is destroying their kingdom.

“This was much more than we ever could have thought,” said Dave Hollis, executive vice president of distribution for Walt Disney Studios, of “Frozen”‘s strong opening, adding it was the biggest-ever opening for one of its animated releases.

Disney’s action film “Thor: The Dark World,” based on the character from its Marvel comic book unit, was third with $15.5 million in ticket sales, according to data compiled by Rentrak.

“Catching Fire,” the sequel to the 2012 blockbuster “The Hunger Games,” stars Jennifer Lawrence as heroine Katniss Everdeen, the skilled archer who becomes a beacon of hope for an oppressed society. The movies, distributed by Lions Gate Entertainment, are based on a series of novels by Suzanne Collins.

The film set a November opening weekend record of $158.1 million, then smashed the Thanksgiving five-day mark in its second week. It already ranks third on this year’s list of top-grossing films, according to data compiled by Rentrak, behind “Iron Man 3” and “Despicable Me 2.” Its global total is $573 million.

Rounding out the top five were strong-performing “The Best Man Holiday,” starring Taye Diggs and Terrence Howard, with $11.1 million, and “Homefront,” which collected $9.8 million in its debut weekend.

The R-rated “Homefront,” written by Sylvester Stallone, features British action star Jason Statham as a former U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration agent who moves to a small town to raise his daughter but tangles with a local drug lord.

“Black Nativity,” a musical from Fox Searchlight starring Forest Whitaker, Jennifer Hudson and Angela Bassett, only managed the No. 8 spot with $5 million in sales for its opening weekend.

“Frozen,” a $150 million film, is the latest from Disney’s animation studio, which has enjoyed a revival since 2006 when the company acquired Pixar. Disney had a big hit in the 2010 “Tangled” and last November with “Wreck-it-Ralph.”

Hollis said the studio expected the film would play well through the Christmas season, noting that “there are not a lot of family (film) options” opening in the coming weeks.

Lions Gate Entertainment produced and distributed “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire.

“Frozen” and “Thor” were released by Disney.

“Black Nativity was distributed by Fox Searchlight, a unit of Twenty-First Century Fox.

“Homefront” was released by Open Road Films, a joint venture of theater chains AMC Entertainment and Regal Entertainment.

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