'Hunger Games: Catching Fire' Tops Box Office, Receives Positive Critical Reception


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No surprise here, but Catching Fire, the widely anticipated sequel to The Hunger Games, was a smash hit at the box office this weekend. Catching Fire not only raked in just over $161 million in ticket sales, it also broke the previous November opening record.

With a Rotten Tomatoes score of 89 percent and an audience approval rating of 94 percent, it's easy to see why The Hunger Games: Catching Fire was so successful in its opening weekend. The previous opening record for November was held by The Twilight Saga: New Moon--New Moon had $142 million in sales in 2009. Needless to say, Hunger Games fan or not, there will be quite a few people happy to see a Twilight movie dethroned.

Catching Fire takes place right after Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) gets home from the Hunger Games. We find her trying to get past the horrors she faced in the arena while trying to appease the ruthless President Snow (Donald Sutherland). Katniss finds out that her trick with the berries at the end of the last film to save her and Peeta Mellark's (Josh Hutcherson) lives was seen as an act of defiance by the other districts. As a result, there are rumblings of an uprising, something the oppressive Capitol does not want.

It is decided that Katniss and a rebellion can be eliminated by forcing her participation in yet another Hunger Games for the Quarter Quell. To mark the 75th anniversary of the Hunger Games, two previous victors from each district are selected to participate, something that does not sit well since the victors thought they were guaranteed immunity from all future Hunger Games.

The tributes in the Quarter Quell are of varying ages. We see younger tributes like Katniss and Peeta all the way to an older woman who can barely talk, let alone possesses the physical strength needed to participate in the Games. This character, Mags (Lynn Cohen), is the source of quite a few emotional moments in the film, plus is a testament to just how ruthless the Capitol is.

Did you watch The Hunger Games: Catching Fire in the opening weekend? If so, add your comments about the movie below.

Catching Fire has received generally positive reviews from the critics. Christopher Orr from The Atlantic says, "Now the violence is not merely physical, but existential. Far from having won her freedom as promised, Katniss is now imprisoned in a false public narrative-supporter of the Capitol, lover of Peeta-from which she may never escape."

NPR's Bob Mandello says that Catching Fire certainly promises a strong sequel: "Given the strength of this installment, I'd say the box-office odds continue to be, in that Hunger Games catchphrase, 'ever in its favor.'"

The movie received a lot of positive comments on Twitters, as well:

The third installment of The Hunger Games series, Mockingjay Part 1, is slated to release November 21, 2014. The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2 will come almost a year later, November 20, 2015.

[Image via YouTube]