The movies Hunger Games: Catching Fire and Frozen have lit up the box office recently – worldwide they are the fifth and second biggest releases of 2013. Interestingly they were both released on the same day in the US and Canada (though in only one theatre in the case of Frozen) and the graph below shows the different rates at which they accumulated their totals.
Catching Fire followed a trajectory largely typical of large blockbusters: an opening weekend of $158m (6th largest ever unadjusted) leading to a gross around $425m corresponds to a multiplier of 2.7. It still made significant money during the Christmas break with a gross exceeding $10m in its sixth weekend which is rare. The course of Frozen started off similarly in terms of second weekend drop, but had a smaller opening weekend in wide release of $67m. Funnily they had an identical second weekend drop of 53.1% which impressive for both movies given the size of the first weekend for Catching Fire and the fact that it was post-Thanksgiving weekend for Frozen’s second weekend. Following Thanksgiving weekend, Catching Fire in fact had the 3rd largest gross after 10 days, behind only Avengers and The Dark Knight.
After 15 days Catching Fire had made $317m, Frozen was on $109m and both movies were making comparable amounts of money on a daily basis at that point. It is remarkable then that Frozen has ended up within $30m of Catching Fire’s total. Frozen had unbelievable staying power during the holiday season as seen from the above graph, with only one weekend drop exceeding 30% from its 3rd weekend until its release on Blu-ray/DVD (when still in the top ten!). Furthermore during that weekend (1) the drop was still just 31.5%, (2) it was after a boost the previous weekend due to the new year holidays, and (3) it was back up to number one movie at the box office! This type of behaviour is hardly ever seen in this age of front-loadedness (where movies usually make the bulk of their money in early weeks).
Frozen made more than half of its money in US + Canada after its fourth weekend of wide release and was in the top ten for an amazing 16 weeks. Its multiplier of close to 6 given that size of opening weekend is the best since Avatar and perhaps no other movie since Phantom Menace (released in 1999) has a comparable multiplier for a large opener. Nobody thought it would get close to $400m after being at $134m following a $31.6m second weekend! It has been fun following its box office journey. 🙂