‘Thor: The Dark World’ vs ‘Catching Fire’: Who will come out tops at the box office?

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October 27, 2013 by Hope W.

Judging from advance sales of the Hunger Games and Thor marathons currently offered by Cathay, Singaporeans are more excited for Catching Fire than Thor: The Dark World. And I must say, I’m taken aback by this fervour for the Hunger Games.

Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) and Peeta Mellark (Josh Hutcherson) in The Hunger Games: Catching Fire

Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) and Peeta Mellark (Josh Hutcherson) in The Hunger Games: Catching Fire

Mostly because while I enjoyed the first installment of the dystopian series, The Avengers opened only a month later and blew everyone else’s earnings last year out of the water, so I forgot about the popularity of The Hunger Games. But now that I have gone back to look at its box office numbers in comparison to Iron Man 3 this year (I took Iron Man 3 because I wanted to compare which would do better: Robert Downey Jr.’s star power versus a popular book series; plus its gross is an easier range to strive for than The Avengers’), The Hunger Games may have earned half of what Iron Man 3 did worldwide, due to RDJ’s bankability overseas; but in the US alone, both earned almost equal amounts (slightly above $400 million), which is an astonishing feat in itself.

Do you know how difficult it is for a movie to earn over $400 million in the US alone, much less a movie that is *not* a sequel? Not taking inflation or the cinematic re-release of older movies like Jurassic Park into account, the only other non-sequels to earn above $400 million in the US are Avatar, Titanic, and Spider-Man (2002).

Yes, The Hunger Games came from a very popular YA novel series. So did Twilight, and none of the Twilight movies reached the heights of The Hunger Games’ domestic business. Its success also spurred a frantic bidding war among many studios to get their hands on the most popular YA series currently; a business move which saw its first flops in the disappointing box office results of The Host and The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones. I have serious reservations about the success of the upcoming The Maze Runner and Vampire Academy too, which star almost total unknowns. (Divergent *might* make it — it has Shailene Woodley in it, whose star-turn as George Clooney’s daughter in The Descendents got people to notice her; and Kate Winslet, who generally has good taste in her roles.)

But now that Jennifer Lawrence has won an Oscar and is better known overseas (though not at Robert Downey Jr. heights), plus the fact that Catching Fire is a highly anticipated sequel, I did expect it to do much better business — just not as well as it is tracking now, and certainly not better than Thor: The Dark World.

Put it this way: Thor’s next installment is opening this Thursday (or next Thursday, in the US), and it is tracking at no. 11 on IMDb’s Moviemeter — which ranks movies and TV series in order of popularity in IMDb searches each week — while Catching Fire opens four weeks later, but is currently ranked higher at no. 6.

And if you ask me why I am so concerned about the fortunes of movies that I have no stake in, it’s because I want the movies I love to do the business that I feel they deserve (tempered, of course, with appropriate expectations; e.g. if it’s a drama, it’s definitely not going to earn a billion dollars). For instance, if I had my choice, Avatar would not sit atop the records as top-grossing film of all time, because while it was a brilliant spectacle, it wasn’t $2.7-billion worthy. The story was cliched, and the set-up was just… stupid, as explained by the Honest Trailer below.

Not that I don’t think Catching Fire will be awesome, because I do; but at this point, I shall just admit that I’m biased and I think that people should be wanting to watch Thor: The Dark World as much as they do Catching Fire. (It’s Thor and Loki, feuding brothers in arms! And rife with signature Marvel humour and tons of action! Whereas The Hunger Games… well, I’ll go into further detail in my next post.)

I mean, look at Chris Hemsworth, looking all godlike as Thor! I'm amazed less people are foaming at the mouth to watch him in Thor: The Dark World, than they are to watch Catching Fire!

I mean, look at Chris Hemsworth, looking all godlike as Thor! I’m amazed more people are foaming at the mouth to watch Catching Fire than him in Thor: The Dark World.

I may be (unnecessarily) pitting brother against brother — Chris Hemsworth stars in Thor; Liam Hemsworth in The Hunger Games — in the battle of whose movie will do better, but it is something that box office pundits do all the time when weighing the biggest movies coming out each season to see which studio came away with the biggest windfall. And I think that Thor: The Dark World deserves to do as well as Catching Fire, if not more, because Thor and Loki are my favourite on-screen sibling rivals ever.

But what do you think? If you could only watch one of the two movies, which would you pick?

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