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David Poland

By David Poland

Friday Estimates by Klady On Fire

Friday Estimates 2013-11-23 at 9.28.01 AM
(note: Hunger Games number includes previews)

It may turn out to be something else, but today, The Hunger Games franchise looks like it has its number. The Hunger Games opened to $67.3 million Friday and a $152.5m weekend. The Hunger Games: Catching Fire opened to an estimated $68.8 million Friday and a weekend estimate to come tomorrow… but you can be pretty sure it will be between $150m and $160m. In other words, humongous, but not growing.

This is actually a phenomenon of the last 10 years that really wasn’t part of the movie business math before. The number gets set by the first film… often the biggest of the series until the finale… and then the number is up or down a little each time. Hardly worth thinking too hard about. Harry Potter started it. Twilight continued it. Marvel saw it happen at two levels. First, there was a kind of set audience for the two Hulk movies and then, at a higher number, we saw it with Thor and Captain America. Iron Man: The Franchise was the anomaly for Marvel-produced Marvel character films and or course, Avengers made the case that a combination of characters at one gross level could produce a huge number grouped together. Thor: The Dark World is up about 15% over the first film right now, though the lead is thinning a bit as we get farther from the big opening.

The big hope of significantly bigger numbers for these franchises now comes not from an expanding US market for each film, but from international, where the hope/expectation is that somehow the franchise is not as highly valued, but then explodes after theatrical and post-theatrical viewing in the rest of the world. And by #3, it still tends to get static.

None of this is a bad thing. But it’s a big change from, say, Bond, where there was incremental growth on almost every film—until the last one—or alternately, the big bump on the 2nd film followed by a drop off on the 3rd film, or the really old school (pre-dvd sell-thru) slow leak of each sequel to earn enough for profit but always on a downward trajectory. Obviously, there exceptions to all things, but there are trends that are real. Bond and Fast/Furious each got “resets” recently, resetting their expected gross level significantly.

Anyway… odds are pretty good that The Hunger Games franchise will live at this $700 million range… which not coincidentally was the Twilight neighborhood from the 2nd film on. I suspect that the folks at Summitsgate would prefer the kind of worldwide gross doubling that greeted Twilight 2 ($709m) after the first film did $392m. (Rough numbers, people… don’t lose focus.) But that doesn’t seem likely here. They’ll just have to live with $700m grosses and squeezing as many films as they can out of this thing. Coming To A Theater Near You In 2022: Katniss Has Kittens!

The only other wide opening this weekend is The Delivery Man, which is the worst opening over 1000 screens for Vince Vaughn since… ever. I don’t want to bury the guy, but the last $20m+ opening was 2009″s Couple’s Retreat. He still has a following, but if you can’t open to 8 figures, you aren’t an Opener anymore. This is Vaughn’s fourth wide open since Couple’s Retreat. The last three were team-ups and opened between $12.5m and $18m. Solo, it will be under $10m. What that screams to me is that it’s Robert Duvall time… still well liked, still helps a movie open… but not The Big Box Office Kahuna. It happens. See: Jim Carrey.

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14 Responses to “Friday Estimates by Klady On Fire”

  1. movieman says:

    “Delivery Man” makes 2 “DreamWorks-distributed-by-Disney” bombs in a row.
    Sure hope Aaron Paul’s upscale “Fast and the Furious” actioner does a lot better than “DM” or “The Fifth Estate” when it opens next March.

  2. pj says:

    Focus got greedy with DBC and ended up The Master-ing it. It also didn’t help that tv spots they were showing were nothing like the actual movie.

  3. YancySkancy says:

    Unless I’m misunderstanding, I don’t see how CAPTAIN AMERICA fits your thesis, since the sequel hasn’t been released yet.

  4. EtGuild2 says:

    I’m not sure how TWILIGHT fits your thesis either. The first film was the smallest, by FAR of the series, and the finale was on par with the second and third installments, no bounce whatsoever. And no, the odds are not good that HG will live in a $700 million range considering the international numbers are annihilating the first film so far, almost across the board. It seems that the odds are in their favor for $850 million, minimum.

    Yeah, this is the 4th straight Dreamworks SKG bomb if you throw out the movie directed by Spielberg. Stacy Snider’s time is running out.

  5. jesse says:

    I think it’s also worth pointing out that it seems like the main differentiating factor here is that Potter, Twilight, and Hunger Games are all franchises with more predetermined end dates. Yes, they can split the final books into two movies (even though that makes zero sense in non-Potter cases); and yes, everyone said leading up to, say, Dark Knight Rises that it would be the final film. But I think the new sequel math Dave is using here has more to do with the YA book series origins than a new sequel paradigm (especially with the Marvel movies only really working if you call Iron Man 1-3 — a full third of their output so far! — an anomaly).

    True, probably, that the days of most big sequels outperforming the first movie by 50% or so are over, just as the days of most sequels doing about 60% of the first movie’s business ended sometime in the late nineties. But the Twilight model, where the first movie arguably got more people interested in the books which fed even greater interest in the sequels, isn’t really applicable to multiple franchises or even multiple sequels — as evidenced by the Twilight sequels all hovering around the same number.

    Like the Twilight sequels and the Potters, the Hunger Games fanbase — a huge one — is pretty much solidified. I can’t help but think the books must have something to do with this: the book series is over, so the what-happens-next suspense has largely been replaced with how-is-it-adapted-next suspense, which is a more specialized form, yes? The more traditional suspense already happened when people read the books.

    I’m sure a few people see these movies without reading the books, but still — it’s not exactly the same as wondering what’s going to happen to Batman in the final installment or even the Star Trek guys in the next installment, or whatever, because anyone who’s really excited about that will probably pick up a copy of Mockingjay.

  6. Chris says:

    I think Focus got confused by hoping that “Dallas Buyers Club” was a gay audience movie (it isn’t) and then not knowing who it was for, if not gay audiences. Also, the movie, despite two great performances, just isn’t very good.

  7. Mike says:

    Is the model of a first doing okay number and then the sequel exploding gone? Bourne, Austin Powers, Batman Begins. They don’t seem like that long ago, but I guess they are. They all relied on rentals to drive interest in the sequel, and with rental seemingly dead, I guess that makes sense.

    I don’t do Redbox, but still do Netflix discs, but do the numbers support rental as a declining market? Did Netflix not just kill Blockbuster, but kill rental as a business model, too?

  8. Jermsguy says:

    reads “humongous but not growing”

    “Always with the negative! Someone please punch this guy!” -Jon Feltheimer

  9. Geoff says:

    Mike the thing is that there really is no model, but there are still franchises that are seeing big jumps…..The Dark Knight was in 2008, not really that long ago actually.

    You had big recent upticks for Fast & Furious, Despicable Me, and James Bond…..there’s really just no way to predict it except having the right elements in place to make it an event, i.e…..”this time, The Rock is joining them” or “more Minions!” or having a once-in-a-lifetime publicity stunt like the Olympic opening ceremony.

  10. Jermsguy says:

    Actually, with Hunger Games, the second book is pretty weak, so I say it’s a testament to Part 2 that it is doing that well, and most critics are saying it’s better than the first.

  11. Bob Burns says:

    all really popular books/comix…. pre-cooked meals.

    wonder how an Inception sequel would do?

  12. Bulldog68 says:

    I’m in the “there is no model” column on this. To speak of growth for Hunger Games is a bit like winning the 100m gold medal and four years later, there are only two things that can happen, you win again, or you don’t.

    Remember, Hunger Games didn’t start like Twilight, who had a meager by comparison $192m. It posted more than double that, and in the process, became the 11th largest grossing movie at the time. Room for growth on Hunger Games will all be minimal if any, because there is just less room to grow, of course with the exception of international. And Hunger Games is in a very unique position with regard to International. Of the top 100 grossing films, Hunger Games has the third lowest percentage of international dollars contributing to its worldwide gross. That’s the number the studio is looking at. Only the first Star Wars, and Passion of the Christ have a lower percentage.

    As for Domestic, Hunger Games had very good legs for a large opener, but it fell 61% in it’s 2nd week. There is a chance that that won’t happen with Catching Fire, as it will have the Thanksgiving weekend to buff up those numbers and possibly be beyond what Hunger Games was after the 2nd weekend (248m.) Even though, to be fair, that didn’t help Twilight and Harry Potter from big drops themselves.

    I think the end game for Catching Fire is still somewhere between $350m-$425m with international taking it past $800m. Win Win.

    ” I suspect that the folks at Summitsgate would prefer the kind of worldwide gross doubling that greeted Twilight 2 ($709m) after the first film did $392m. (Rough numbers, people… don’t lose focus.) But that doesn’t seem likely here. ”

    Your sentence kind of gives the impression that somebody at Summit was looking at the Twilight model and hoping for similar results. Well that would mean they’re hoping for a $1.4b worldwide gross. Somebody is smoking some really great pot. Can I have some?

  13. EtGuild2 says:

    Good points Bulldog. Also, it should be noted that some of the Potter finale bounce is owed to it being the only movie in the series released in 3D. If CATCHING FIRE had gone for the 3D cash grab, this likely would be the #2 opening of all-time.

  14. JS Partisan says:

    Ethan, Catching Fire did have that IMAX money, so that helps.

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