Compared to last year, when there were a handful of billion dollar movies and The Hunger Games, the year's #3 movie at the domestic box office, generated more than $400 million here in the U.S., it's felt like a fairly slow year at the box office.
Of course, a surprisingly strong November and December, with Thor: The Dark World, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire and The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug could help change those perceptions significantly, and that seems to be what's happening. Not only did The Hunger Games: Catching Fire apparently surpass the massive $152.5 million opening weekend of its predecessor in the U.S., but it's already generated more than $300 million at the global box office, according to Deadline's weekend estimates.
$307.7 million, in fact, which means that unless Deadline's numbers are fairly off, the film will have no problem crossing that $300 million threshold for its opening weekend, even if it does make a little less than expected.
That’s 45% better than the $211.8 million worldwide that The Hunger Games took in on opening weekend and puts the sequel halfway to matching the $286.3 million overall international gross of that original film. It's also a little less than halfway to the $408 million domestic haul, so don't be too surprised if, like Thor, it outdoes its predecessor more quickly than expected.
It won't do it within a week, like Thor did, though. That was a combination of glowing reviews, the "Avengers bump" and the fact that, relative to the massive blockbusters that all of the Marvel movies have become, the first Thor did fairly modest money. You'll see a similar drubbing of the old record when Captain America: The Winter Soldier hits in five or six months, as Captain America: The First Avenger did even less money than Thor did, but tracking for Cap 2 is roughly on par with that of Thor: The Dark World. No matter how impressive The Hunger Games is, the first one did well enough that it would be unreasonable to expect Catching Fire to torch the records in short order.
The massive opening catapulted Catching Fire into the top twenty films of 2013 at the domestic box office, nearly beating out Thor: The Dark World, which has been in theaters for three weeks (Thor currently stands at a little over $167 million, compared to a little less than $162 million for The Hunger Games).