Just What Box Office Records Can 'Catching Fire' Break?

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Certainly, Catching Fire's box-office haul will be huge, but what fatal flaw could keep it from a record-breaking weekend? Let's break it down. 

Last year, the first installment in the franchise took home over $152 million in its first weekend. Not bad, but people are expecting bigger things for Catching Fire, which, for what it's worth, has better reviews than its predecessor, and has been killing it (no pun intended) overseas. Box Office Mojo is currently forecasting a $167 million opening weekend for the film, while Andrew Stewart at Variety hedged a little saying that expectations are at "north of $150 million domestically" though some think it could surpass $160 million. Grady Smith at Entertainment Weekly, meanwhile, is even more optimistic and predicts it could make $175 million. How high does it need to go to break some key domestic records? 

To have the best opening weekend of all time it will need to beat...The Avengers, duh. Marvel's superhero extravaganza brought in $207.4 million and went on to be the third highest grossing film of all time. Can Katniss take down Tony Stark and his buddies? Unfortunately, when you frame it that way, probably not.

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Jason Evans at Speakeasy addresses one of the key reasons Catching Fire won't beat The Avengers: it has no 3D release. Fans of eliminating unnecessary 3D will cheer, but it means the box office won't be as strong since 3D brings all that extra sweet, sweet money due to inflated ticket prices. So a more reasonable record Catching Fire might look to is the one held for 2D release opening weekend. In which case... 

To have the best 2D opening weekend of all time it will need to beat...The Dark Knight Rises.  The final film in Christopher Nolan's Batman trilogy made $160.8 million in its opening weekend. If the higher estimates for this weekend are on target, the battling tributes of Panem could do this. 

To have the best opening weekend of 2013, it will need to beat...Iron Man 3. Seriously, those Marvel boys have it good at the box office. Iron Man 3 brought in $174 million on its opening weekend back in May. Smith thinks Catching Fire could top that, considering it was the "the number one-seller of advance tickets this year according to Fandango," appeals to a variety of audiences, and has had great marketing. Based on other estimates, it's more of a toss-up.

To have the best opening day ever, it will need to beat...Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part II. The final Harry Potter made $91 million in its first day, July 15, 2011. Can Catching Fire catch up? Deadline isn't so optimistic: "The original Hunger Games grossed $67.3M on its first Friday, so the sequel — despite its near-universal strong reviews — will have to get legs to catch that one." 

To have the best November opening weekend, it will need to beat...New Moon. It's a battle for Y.A. love triangles in this one, but based on estimates Katniss, Peeta, and Gale should easily take Bella, Edward, and Jacob. The second installment of the Twilight franchise made $142.8 million in its opening weekend. Catching Fire has almost certainly got this one in the bag. 

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.