Francis Lawrence's The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, starring Best Actress Academy Award winner Jennifer Lawrence (Silver Linings Playbook), Liam Hemsworth, and Josh Hutcherson, raked in a remarkable $25.25 million from evening shows on Thursday, November 21, 2013, in North America (playing at 4,163 locations on Friday), according to estimates found at Box Office Mojo. That's 28 percent higher than the $19.74 million at 2,565 locations earned by its predecessor, Gary Ross' The Hunger Games; it's also one of the biggest domestic “midnight” debuts ever. (See more on that below. Scroll down to check out a video of Jennifer Lawrence yelling back at yelling photographers at the Catching Fire New York premiere. And see also: “'Catching Fire' Weekend Box Office: Poised to Surpass 'New Moon,' 'The Hunger Games'?”)
Now, in the paragraph above the word “midnight” is in quotes because Catching Fire had the (major) box office-boosting advantage of late Thursday evening shows, unlike most pre-2013 midnight releases. Thus, when we compare its “midnight” box office take to that of The Hunger Games, we're actually comparing apples and potatoes. It's that different. (See also: “Jennifer Lawrence 'Catching Fire' Weekend Box Office: To Surpass 'New Moon,' 'The Hunger Games'?“)
Biggest midnight box office openings ever
Using various sources, I've compiled a list of the top midnight and/or Thursday evening (with asterisk) box office openings ever in the United States and Canada. In case anyone notices a missing title, please let me know. Figures not adjusted for inflation. Note: Four of the titles below were released in 3D.
- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 3D - $43.5 million (Daniel Radcliffe, Ralph Fiennes, Emma Watson, Rupert Grint; director David Yates).
- The Dark Knight Rises - $30.6 million (Christian Bale, Anne Hathaway, Tom Hardy, Marion Cotillard; director Christopher Nolan)
- The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn - Part 2 - $30.4 million* (Robert Pattinson, Kristen Stewart, Taylor Lautner; director Bill Condon).
- The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn - Part 1 - $30.3 million (Robert Pattinson, Kristen Stewart, Taylor Lautner; director Bill Condon).
- The Twilight Saga: Eclipse - $30.1 million (Robert Pattinson, Kristen Stewart, Taylor Lautner, Bryce Dallas Howard; director David Slade).
- The Twilight Saga: New Moon - $26.3 million (Robert Pattinson, Kristen Stewart, and Taylor Lautner; director: Chris Weitz).
- The Hunger Games: Catching Fire - $25.25 million (Jennifer Lawrence, Liam Hemsworth, Josh Hutcherson; director: Francis Lawrence)
- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1 - $24 million (Daniel Radcliffe, Ralph Fiennes, Emma Watson, Rupert Grint; director: David Yates).
- Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince - $22.2 million (Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, Rupert Grint; director: David Yates).
- Man of Steel 3D - $21 million* (Henry Cavill, Amy Adams, Michael Shannon, Diane Lane, Russell Crowe; director: Zack Snyder)
- The Hunger Games - $19.7 million (Jennifer Lawrence, Liam Hemsworth, Josh Hutcherson; director Gary Ross).
- The Avengers 3D - $18.7 million (Chris Hemsworth, Chris Evans, Tom Hiddleston, Mark Ruffalo, Scarlett Johansson, Jeremy Renner, Robert Downey Jr.; director Joss Whedon).
- The Dark Knight - $18.5 million (Christian Bale, Heath Ledger, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Aaron Eckhart; director: Christopher Nolan).
- Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith - $16.5 million (Ewan McGregor, Natalie Portman, Hayden Christensen; director: George Lucas).
- Iron Man 3 3D - $15.6 million* (Robert Downey Jr., Gwyneth Paltrow, Ben Kingsley, Guy Pearce; director: Shane Black)
Internationally, Catching Fire has to date earned an estimated $32 million from 43 territories. As per Lionsgate, that's more than double what The Hunger Games earned during the same time frame in most markets.
Jennifer Lawrence loses it at 'Catching Fire' New York premiere
Jennifer Lawrence apparently lost her patience with photographers yelling unintelligible requests to the Catching Fire star at the film's New York premiere. By screaming back a few times, Lawrence provided them with a great photo-op. See below.
Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth topline 'Catching Fire' movie cast
Besides Jennifer Lawrence (soon to be seen with Bradley Cooper in Serena), Josh Hutcherson (The Kids Are All Right), and Liam Hemsworth (whose co-stars range from Miley Cyrus in The Last Song to Sylvester Stallone in The Expendables 2), The Hunger Games: Catching Fire features Sam Claflin (Snow White and the Huntsman), Best Actor Academy Award winner Philip Seymour Hoffman (Capote), two-time Oscar nominee Woody Harrelson (The People vs. Larry Flynt, The Messenger), and Best Supporting Actor Oscar nominee Stanley Tucci (The Lovely Bones).
In addition to the following: Elizabeth Banks, Jena Malone, Alan Ritchson, Toby Jones, Amanda Plummer, Lynn Cohen, Taylor St. Clair, Jack Quaid, Willow Shields, Sandra Ellis Lafferty, Nelson Ascencio, Jeffrey Wright, and Lenny Kravitz.
Simon Beaufoy (The Full Monty, Slumdog Millionaire) and Michael Arndt (Little Miss Sunshine, Oblivion) were credited for the Catching Fire movie adaptation, based on Suzanne Collins' bestselling novel. (See also: “'Catching Fire' Movie Box Office: 1 Million Tickets But 'Breaking Dawn Part 2' Record Safe in Brazil.”)
Jennifer Lawrence The Hunger Games: Catching Fire photo: Lionsgate Pictures.