Box office: ‘Catching Fire’ burns up Thursday with $25 million opening

“The Hunger Games: Catching Fire” is ready to scorch all the other tributes at the box office this weekend, and is already off to a huge start. 

The sequel grossed a stellar $25.3 million from Thursday showings that started 8 p.m., and could hit anywhere between $150 million and $180 million over the weekend.

This is even higher than initially projected, and the film will easily pass the November record of $142.8 million, set by “Twilight Saga: New Moon.”

Marvel’s “Iron Man 3” currently holds the opening weekend record for 2013, having earned $174.1 million in early May.  

In comparison, 2012’s original “Hunger Games” enjoyed opening weekend grosses of $152.5 million. It went on to earn $408 million domestically. 

The competition knew to give the film a wide berth. The new Vince Vaughn comedy “Delivery Man” is this weekend’s only other wide opener, while holdovers hits “Thor: The Dark World” and “Best Man Holiday” have already made their mark.

Next week brings us a plethora of Thanksgiving releases, including Spike Lee’s “Oldboy” remake, Disney’s animated “Frozen,” the holiday musical “Black Nativity” and the Jason Statham actioner “Homefront.”
“Catching Fire” will further cement star Jennifer Lawrence’s A-list status, and the Oscar winner still has David O. Russell’s all-star  “American Hustle” hitting theaters in December. 

“The Hunger Games: Catching Fire” is the second of four films adapted from Suzanne Collins’ bestselling YA series. It also stars Josh Hutcherson, Jena Malone, Liam Hemsworth, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Jeffrey Wright, Elizabeth Banks and Donald Sutherland. 

“The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1” is set to be released November 21, 2014, with “Part 2” following November 20, 2015.