Strong November Box Office Falls Just Short of Record

by Ray Subers
The Hunger Games: Catching Fire

December 3, 2013

Thanks to huge numbers from The Hunger Games: Catching Fire and Thor: The Dark World, November box office exceeded $1 billion for the second year in a row. Its $1.07 billion was a bit below last year's $1.09 billion record, though.

Through the end of November, the 2013 domestic box office is neck-and-neck with 2012: year-to-date earnings are $9.87 billion, which is less than $10 million below 2012. With strong holdovers Catching Fire and Frozen and guaranteed blockbusters The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug and Anchorman: The Legend Continues, it's likely that 2013 comes awfully close to matching 2012's record $10.84 billion.

The uncontested champion in November was The Hunger Games: Catching Fire. After opening to $158.1 million (a new November record) it played well through the Thanksgiving holiday and ended the month with $282.1 million. If Catching Fire holds as well as the last few Twilight movies—not a difficult task for this well-reviewed, broadly-appealing flick—it will end up with over $400 million.

Thor: The Dark World
took second place in November with $184.6 million. That's ahead of the first Thor and Captain America: The First Avenger. Still, it's nowhere near any of the Marvel Cinematic Universe movies that include Iron Man, all of which earned over $300 million. Thor: The Dark World should end its domestic run with over $200 million, and will wind up even higher overseas (between $425 and $450 million).

Disney Animation's Frozen had a surprisingly strong late-month debut; through its first four days in nationwide release, Frozen earned an impressive $78.7 million. That's way ahead of the pace set by Tangled at the same point in 2010; with little competition in December, Frozen seems like a lock for a total north of $250 million.

There were also a few modest successes in November. The Best Man Holiday earned $61.6 million through the end of November, which is more than the original movie's total when adjusting for ticket price inflation. With $58.1 million, Last Vegas is now the highest-grossing movie yet for distributor CBS Films. Finally, Free Birds earned a decent $52.9 million.

Without a doubt, the biggest disappointment in November was Ender's Game. The big-budget adaptation of Orson Scott Card's sci-fi novel opened in first place with a solid $27 million, but fell off quickly from there. By the end of the month it had earned $59.2 million, and had slowed to the point where it will barely beat early 2013 flop After Earth ($60.5 million).

Other disappointments include Delivery Man ($18 million) and About Time ($14.6 million), along with a handful of Thanksgiving movies that bombed (Homefront, Black Nativity, Oldboy).

Discuss this story with fellow Box Office Mojo fans on Facebook. On Twitter, follow us at @boxofficemojo, and follow author Ray Subers at @raysubers.

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