On its first day in 4,136 locations, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire took in an estimated $70.5 million, including $25.25 million from its Thursday night previews. That is higher than the $67.2 million The Hunger Games earned from its opening in March 2012 as well as the $68.8 million of Iron Man 3. For weeks, those two films have guided weekend projections for Catching Fire, with the sequel expected to land somewhere between the $152.5 million of its predecessor and the $176.1 million of IM3.
This morning, however, expectations have been scaled back a bit. Catching Fire is now targeting a more modest $152 million through Sunday, or about $15 million less than originally expected. Of course, anything above $142.8 million would still be enough to strip The Twilight Saga: New Moon of its record for the biggest November opening of all time. But, considering that it has been an article of faith that the sequel would top its predecessor, the fact that that is now in doubt qualifies as a surprise. Check back tomorrow to see how it all plays out.