The Reject Report - Large

A lone film hits on a multitude of screens this weekend. The playing field is all for its amusement, and this one film appears to be holding every card in the deck. It’s not a matter of if The Hungers Games will be a success. The real question is how many records will it be breaking this weekend.

The incredibly popular book series finally makes its cinematic debut, and, like the Twilight series before it, The Hunger Games is sure to take its core audience by storm. It’ll be sure to bring in audiences who aren’t familiar with the book series, as well, ensuring its place in box office history, or, at the very least, offer a strong enough debut to warrant the inevitable sequel. That’s what it’s all about, isn’t it? The franchise.

Let’s take a look at how this lone wolf stacks up against all these familiar cubs.

The Breakdown

The Hunger Games

  • Nearly 3 million copies in print. On a number of bestseller lists for sometimes up to 100 consecutive weeks. Translated in 26, different languages. There’s a built-in audience for The Hunger Games, something Lionsgate took into serious account when they picked up the rights. Now it’s looking to be their biggest opening ever. As it stands, Lionsgate’s biggest debut was Tyler Perry’s Madea Goes to Jail with $41m in 2009. That’ll end up being pocket change for the likes of The Hunger Games.
  • The studio has the screen count to back it up, too. The Hunger Games will be seeing release on over 4100 screens, and the film already ranks #15 on the all-time widest opening list. The smallest opening for a film released on more than 4100 screens was Madagascar with $47.2m its opening weekend in 2005. Needless to say, Madagascar doesn’t have similar appeal as The Hunger Games.
  • Lionsgate is selling the film incredibly well, too, focusing on the characters but letting everyone know there will be more than enough action to go around. They’re letting everyone know that fans of the books won’t be let down, and there’s ample amounts of story and excitement to win over moviegoers who have never even picked up Suzanne Collins‘s novel.
  • The film is already garnering huge support from early viewers and critics alike. Critical praise is never much of a factor when it comes to huge event movies like this, but an 87% rating on Rotten Tomatoes certainly won’t hurt matters.
  • Jennifer Lawrence isn’t exactly an A-list star. Not yet, anyway. Her notoriety began with the indie hit Winter’s Bone and continued to rise with X-Men: First Class last Summer. Her name alone won’t bring much traffic to The Hunger Games, not that it needs to, but it will certainly be this film that launches her star as a lead well into the atmosphere.
  • Only two films, Spider-Man with $114.8m in 2002 and Alice in Wonderland with $116.1m in 2010, have debuted higher than $100m without being a sequel. Alice in Wonderland also holds the record for March openings, a record The Hunger Games won’t be breaking. Franchise starters rarely have the instant impact of something like the third Spider-Man or the second Twilight film. The Hunger Games, a franchise starter itself, will have a monster opening. That much is obvious, but it won’t have the initial strength to break past that milestone. It’ll come in just under that, but, with a reported budget of $78m, no one at Lionsgate will be singing songs of woe.

Weekend projection: $97.5m (#1 on the chart)

The Raid: Redemption

  • Not a big hitter, but a movie everyone should be made aware of, The Raid: Redemption is being touted, deservedly so, as the best action movie in years. Sony Classics picked up the rights to the foreign film, which sees release on 13 screens this weekend with a larger roll-out planned in the weeks to come.
  • That all depends on the per screen average this weekend. The film would have to pull in $76,923 per screen to even break $1m. That’s not entirely out of the realm of possibility. There is precedent for a film to have that high of a per screen average. Just this past fall, Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy had a $77,641 average on 4 screens. But The Raid: Redemption is a foreign language film, and, if Hollywood remakes of foreign films tell us anything, it’s that mass movie audiences don’t like to read. It’s annoying, and it’s obvious, but that doesn’t make it any less true.
  • The Raid: Redemption will drop in with an average somewhere around $50,000 with a weekend gross of around $700,000. That’s a good opening, about as good as can be expected from a film whose main supply of hype has been built on film festival screenings. It’ll continue to grow throughout the weeks, but, here, with only these 14 screens to work with, The Raid: Redemption won’t even be able to chart.
Weekend projection: $700,000 (no placement on the chart)

The Chart

  1. The Hunger Games – $97.5m NEW
  2. 21 Jump Street – $19.7m (-45.5%)
  3. Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax – $13.6m (-39.8%)
  4. John Carter – $5.7m (-57.2%)
  5. Project X – $1.3m (-66.3%)
  6. Act of Valor – $2m (-45.4%)
  7. A Thousand Words – $1.9m (-45%)
  8. Safe House – $1.5m (-44.4%)
  9. Journey 2: The Mysterious Island – $1.4m (-38%)
  10. Casa De Mi Padre – $1.9m (-11%)

The Analysis

Regardless of the fluctuation in The Hunger Games‘ number, we’ll be having one of those rare weekends here where every other film combined won’t equal the amount the #1 movie hauls in. With the aid of its reigning champion, the weekend is looking to have $146.5m spread out among the top 10. It won’t be the biggest weekend of the year. It won’t even break the weekend record for March. However, with John Carter being the recent disappointment that it is, the box office needs a huge boost leading into April.

Wrath of the Titans and American Reunion are the only releases this next month that have the potential for a Summer, blockbuster-level opening weekend, and neither of those are a surefire hit like The Hunger Games. Keeping box office’s head above the $100m waters will be a task resting firmly on The Hunger Games‘ shoulders, and it’s apparent the film won’t have any trouble doing just that.

We’ll be back early next week to go over the weekend numbers.

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