hunger-feature

Box Office Brasserie
Movie News For Movie Lovers

The overwhelmed look of Vince Vaughn’s face on the “Delivery Man” poster says it all: “You gotta be kidding me? You’re releasing my film against ‘The Hunger Games’ sequel?  Seriously? What could I have possibly done to deserve this?” Well, there was that shot-by-shot “Psycho” remake, remember?

Folks, if there’s ever been a cinematic sacrificial lamb, this may be it. Some will try to throw around that word “counter-programming,” but I’m here to tell you…this is a cement-shoe shakedown, see.

Disney is unloading “Delivery Man” into the fire and brimstone that is “The Hunger Games,” with absolute assurance that its only salvation is sell-outs. With multiplexes expected to be a bedlam, overflowing with Katniss clones and Peeta partisans– Fandango is already reporting “Catching Fire” is outpacing “Iron Man 3” sales–heck, the only tickets left may be for Vaughn’s ultimate deadbeat-daddy romp.

Or, maybe “Thor” again. I know many people have been meaning to see “Captain Phillips” or “12 Years a Slave,” but just haven’t got around to it. Still, even seeing “Gravity” again in IMAX may be a more prudent financial endeavor.  I’m sort of surprised the “Delivery Man” advertising campaign doesn’t say something to the effect: “It’s just like ‘101 Dalmatians,’ but with kids instead of dogs.”

The multiplex mania and pop culture firestorm created by “Catching Fire” will no doubt overshadow whatever grosses “Delivery Man” ends up pulling in, which is exactly why Disney chose this date. In a fairly wide 3,000+ theaters, it would be a small miracle if the PG-13 comedy pulled in more than $12M.

On the other end of the spectrum, “Catching Fire” is set to launch a full scale assault against the box office record books. The original pulled off a stunning $152M debut, which, at the time, was the third best debut ever just behind “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Pt. 2” ($169M) and “The Dark Knight” ($158M).

Back in March of 2012, even the most bullish box office prognosticators were hesitant to say “The Hunger Games” was going to top $75M or $100M with its initial roll out. You would have been nuts to do so, considering up until that point every single one of the Top 25 domestic openers was either a superhero flick, a reboot, a sequel, or a fairy tale flick. That’s how rare “The Hunger Games” is.  And that’s why it shocked the box office world.

In fact, domestically “The Hunger Games” grossed $408M, a number never, ever reached by any of the “Harry Potter” films or the “Twilight” flicks. Most of those franchise pics topped out at around $300+M, however “Deathly Hallows Pt. 2” closed the book on a high note, as Harry and Co. scored $381M, although that was also the first in the series to integrate 3D, which certainly helped inflate the bottom line.

So, when prognosticators drop ridiculous numbers like $170+M for “Catching Fire,” don’t think it won’t happen. Sequels to successful tentpoles–especially the first ones–tend to build mightily on the opening weekend audience much like “Pirates of the Caribbean” and “Shrek” did.

And with early numbers trickling in from south of the equator–Brazil to be exact–doubling up on what the original opened with, expect that trend to continue as the victory tour of “Catching Fire” will be unleashing a worldwide box office fury this weekend, the likes we haven’t seen since “The Avengers.”

With the glitzy European premieres of “Catching Fire” ahead of the US red carpet, and the Brazilian blowout acting as its global debut, it’s pretty clear Lionsgate is after worldwide domination this go-round.

When you consider that “The Hunger Games” snagged $691M globally, but only $283M coming from overseas, it’s obvious that Lionsgate is looking to nearly double that total with the sequel. If that happens, we could be looking at the next billion dollar franchise. And, I’m sure at that point, author Suzanne Collins will be asked about a zillion times if there are more “Hunger Games” stories to be told…

Also, Disney unveils  their latest princess musical, “Frozen,” at their flagship theater in the heart of Hollywood, the El Capitan, a week before the nationwide roll out. It’s a pretty amazing toon, but the new Mickey Mouse animated short that plays before it, “Get a Horse!,” is even better, and absolutely worth the full  price of admission. Disney has something very special with this dynamic duo, so expect a massive snowfall of cold hard cash throughout the holiday season.

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WEEKEND ESTIMATES

1. THE HUNGER GAMES: CATCHING FIRE – $175M
2. THOR: THE DARK WORLD – $19M
3. THE BEST MAN HOLIDAY – $18M
4. THE DELIVERY MAN – $11M
5. LAST VEGAS – $6M

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SPICE OF LIFE: CINEMATIC BLURBS, BLIPS, CUTS & CLIPS

BLUM STRIKES AGAIN…AND AGAIN

Micro-budget horror-maestro, producer Jason Blum, has two new sequels set to bewilder the bejesus out of audiences and their wallets, as Universal’s “The Purge 2” will resume its murderous mayhem next summer, June 20, 2014, while Focus Features’ “Insidious: Chapter 3” will possess theaters April 3, 2015.

Just as the New Founding Fathers of America foretold, “The Purge” looks like it will become an annual event.  That’s no surprise, as Blum has done the same for “Paranormal Activity” in recent years and it’s extremely hard to argue with his financial wizardry.

Blum’s budgets routinely come in under $5M, which is pretty amazing, considering “The Purge” piled up $89M worldwide, while “Insidious” and its sequel scared up nearly $250M globally, just in box office receipts. Pretty easy to see why he’s the new face of horror these days; he’s literally killing off the competition.

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DO THE ‘HUNGER GAMES’ MAKE YOU HUNGRY…FOR SUBWAY?

Miss Everdeen knows a thing or two about shilling a product, as she’s basically forced to sell all of Panem on her and Peeta’s “true” love for one another. That’s why I have no issue with her tempting me with the new Fiery Footlong collection from Subway, however, I just wish chili peppers and melted pepperjack cheese satiated my “true” hunger.

Sure, Sriracha and Buffalo sauce are bold and make for a great footlong-on-fire, but you know what would’ve been TRULY bold: Rabbit Jalapeño Melt or Sriracha Squirrel Melt.  I mean, that would be more in keeping “true” to the food pyramid of  Panem, right?  I mean, unless you live in The Capital.

I actually went to Subway the other day and ordered the Victory Tour Combo expecting to be served up a moldy loaf of bread, some tainted berries and a splash of dysentery. Boy, was I surprised when the only thing on fire after my meal was actually my mouth.

Although, it’s sort of disheartening that Subway didn’t really test the limits of taste and quite possibly revolutionize the sandwich. I mean, to not even have Peeta’s special loaf (he comes from a family of bakers) as a bread choice? Who is responsible for these tie-ins?! And yes, as a matter-of-fact, I am available. Sure, sure, I can be bought with coupons and gift cards.  Is there such a thing as a Black Subway Card, offering lifetime subs? I definitely want in on that action.

Although it hasn’t been confirmed directly by Lionsgate, it’s widely assumed that the massive solar flares emanating from the sun this week are all part of the “Catching Fire” campaign. No word on the estimated cost for something like that, but I’m pretty sure it was…wait for it…astronomical.

For those of you that like your solar flare videos with trippy, ambient chill-out music, inhale deeply and plot your course to the following destination:

Best movie ever about the sun: Danny Boyle’s sci-fi thriller, “Sunshine.” One of my favorite and most underrated flicks of 2007.

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JCVD DOES HIS BEST JCVD EVER, WHILE CHANNING TATEM SHOWS OFF HIS BEST JCVD

Jean-Claude Van Damn made a living doing the splits in every single action flick he was in from the 1980s until, well, now…so it’s no surprise that he’s still cashing in on his limber loins. I’m pretty sure he and Enya are thrilled that Volvo decided to feature them both in their latest ad campaign.

Not since Ray Jackson (Donald Gibb, “Revenge of the Nerds'” Ogre) died near the end of “Bloodsport” have I been moved to tears quite like this.  That said, I’m certainly not purchasing a Volvo because of its dynamic steering anytime soon, but you can bet your slow-roasting chestnuts that I will be placing Enya’s Greatest Hits and that Bloodsport/Timecop Blu-ray double feature on my Xmas list!

“22 JUMP STREET” makes its way to theaters next summer, and as far as I’m concerned, Sony’s Channing Tatum/Jonah Hill comedy sequel can’t come soon enough. In the meantime, there’s this:

If this doesn’t make you want to join a secret Kumite club, eat glass and move to a clandestine Asian location where steroids are not only legal, but encouraged…nothing will. “Kumite! Kumite! Kumite!”

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CHOICE CUT OF THE WEEK: “ROBOCOP”

Sure, Sony has dabbled in deplorable sci-fi reboots in the past, i.e. “Total Recall,” however the more I see of the new “Robocop” the more psyched I get. Sure, I’ll miss the OG tin can cop, Peter Weller, but Samuel L. Jackson and Michael Keaton in supporting roles more than makes up for it. I actually really hope this fleshes out a new trilogy, because let’s face it, the original sequels should be serving life-long moratorium sentences…with no chance of digital parole.

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Jeff Bock, NewsWhistle’s movie editor, is the senior box office analyst at Exhibitor Relations in Los Angeles, California. He can be reached at Jeff@NewsWhistle.com.

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“The Hunger Games: Catching Fire” Courtesy of Lionsgate; Poster Design by Ignition Print