The Hunger Games: Catching Fire passed the $400 million domestically on Thursday, January 2, 2014 - becoming only the 14th film to do so during it's initial run.
The original Star Wars; E.T.: The Extra-Terrestial; The Lion King and Jurassic Park actually push the number of films that have grossed over $400 million to 18, but they only passed the threshold after theatrical re-releases.
Of course, such gross numbers don't take into account ticket-price inflation over the years. Adjusted for inflation, 93 films would equal a $400 million run domestically today. Catching Fire would rank 92nd, having edged 1946's Duel In The Sun.
Regardless of how one views the numbers, two things are clear.
First, that Catching Fire now appears a cinch to pass it's predecessor's $408 million haul and then the $409 million domestic haul for Iron Man 3 - perhaps on the same day - which will make it not only the top entry in the franchise, but 2013's most successful film.
Second, Catching Fire has secured The Hunger Games as one of the most wildly successful franchises of our time - and possibly all-time.
It is extremely rare for a a film that was a direct sequel to a film that made over $350 million during it's initial run to actually expand on it's predecessor's already immense popularity. In fact, it has never before happened. I'll break tat down when Catching Fire surpasses the original Hunger Games and Iron Man 3 next week.
For now, it is enough to know that Catching Fire has been a phenomenon. The only films that hit the $400 million mark quicker were: Marvel's The Avengers; The Dark Knight; Avatar and The Dark Knight Rises.
That's some pretty heady company.
Again, I'll go into more detail in my next post. But while it may be tough for Catching Fire to approach the final domestic box-office totals of those four behemoths - The Dark Knight Rises is the only one within realistic distance at this point with $448 million; it is worth noting the films it has reached the $400 million milestone quicker than: Shrek 2; Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest; Iron Man 3; Toy Story 3; Titanic; Spider-Man; Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace; Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen and The Hunger Games.
While chances are it will finish with approximately the total domestic haul of either Shrek 2 ($441 million) or Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest ($423 million); since it beat those films to the milestone by only one and three days respectively, there is a very real possibility the film will do even better.
Why? Because much like males with The Dark Knight, women seem to be the ones seeing this film multiple times and recommending it to their friends. Toss in the fact that Catching Fire beat the best example of another film with the same demographic pull, Titanic ($600 million) to the $400 million milestone by exactly two weeks (14 days), and it could rise up the charts considerably.
Consider the fact that Catching Fire beat it's predecessor to the milestone by a whopping 38 days, and it's clear Katniss Everdeen will continue to make box-office history for some time to come.