‘The Hunger Games: Catching Fire’ First Female-Lead Movie To Top Box Office Since ’73

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire edged out previous leader Iron Man 3 at the 2013 box office, not only winning the year for the second installment in the Hunger Games saga, but becoming the first movie topped by a female star to win the domestic box office race since 1973.

The Hunger Games sequel’s $493,000 take for showings on January 9 boosted its total to $409.4 million domestically, in just 49 days since it hit theaters, The Wall Street Journal reported.

Iron Man 3 was released on May 3, 2013. The Marvel Comics movie starring Robert Downey Jr. as the metallic-outfitted superhero of the title also had the benefit of higher ticket prices for 3D screenings.

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire was not released in 3D. In fact, of the 10 highest-grossing movies to hit theaters in 2013, only The Hunger Games: Catching Fire and Fast & Furious 6 did not enjoy a 3D release to pump up their box office numbers.

In fact, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire is the first non-3D movie to win a box-office year since 2008, according to the show business industry news site Deadline.com. In that year, the second film in Warner Bros. recently-completed Batman trilogy, The Dark Knight Returns, stormed U.S. box offices with a $533.3 million haul.

But most remarkably, in the male-dominated arena of big-time Hollywood box-office, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, with star Jennifer Lawrence, becomes the first film whose lead character is a woman to top a domestic box office year since The Exorcist in 1973, the entertainment site SugarScape noted.

The Exorcist, also based on a bestselling novel, starred Ellen Burstyn and Linda Blair in a tale of demonic possession. That film has gone on to earn almost $233 million domestically, or $867 million adjusted into today’s dollars, according to the industry tracking site Box Office Mojo.

That total puts The Exorcist ninth on the all-time list for inflation-adjusted box office total. The Hunger Games: Catching Fire is already at 88th on the list, despite being in theaters for under two months.

The next installment in The Hunger Games series, The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1, is scheduled to hit theaters November 21. The fourth and final Hunger Games film, The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2, already has a November 20, 2015 release date set.