The Hunger Games

See, this is why there’s no ESPN in the future, because every show they had would only cover The Hunger Games. Once again, the juggernaut about a dystopian American Idol where teens fling arrows at pre-teens and everyone laughs and laughs and laughs hit the #1 spot, overshadowing three new films. But before we talk about them, let’s dig into where this Lionsgate film, the reason you hear corks popping in their hallways every Sunday afternoon, stands in history.

It currently sits with $337m domestic and another $194m foreign. While half a billion dollars worldwide isn’t exactly a ground-shaker these days – 93 films over history have hit the $.5b mark – it’s still impressive business for the studio backing it. With $78m, The Hunger Games‘ reported budget and most of which pulled in from the Saw franchise and Tyler Perry movies, Lionsgate grabbed up The Hunger Games property, actually cared about how the film looked unlike some recent high-property franchises, and ended up with a good film that’s just raking in the dough. The Hunger Games would have done impressive business on the branding alone, but it’s the general concern for how the film looks and plays that’s making it such a phenomenon.

The film jumped into the top 25 domestic this weekend, knocking films like Transformers, Iron Man, and The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring down a notch. It needs another $80m to break into the top 10 of all time. That’s not a wholly unreachable number, but, without a re-release of some kind over the Summer, The Hunger Games won’t make that. They’ll save that achievement unlock for Catching Fire.

The Three Stooges was a return of sorts for The Farrelly Brothers. The team hasn’t topped $15m since 2002 when Shallow Hal debuted with $22.5m. Their love letter – some would call it a milking of the name and look – to Moe, Larry, and Curly had a decent take. The PG nature of the film should have driven its opening higher, somewhere north of $20m, but poor word of mouth and a general disinterest from even fans of the classic team kept it at a forgettable #2 placement.

What’s not so forgettable will be The Cabin in the Woods and its #3 showing. Many in the film community were championing the film, but even that wasn’t strong enough to boost its numbers higher than $14.8m. With the bouncing between distributors and years sitting on the shelf – not to mention how far they got with converting it over to 3-D – there’s no telling how much this movie ultimately cost. Regardless, a huge theatrical pull was never in the cards here. The Cabin in the Woods is a film more suited for home owning, and the Blu-Rays of this thing will be flying off the shelves. Over time this film will make its money back. It may take years, but one day it’ll see its way into the black.

Then there’s Lockout, which had too wide of a release for such a niche action movie. Writer/producer Luc Besson up and down with his releases, driving as high as $24.7m for something like Taken and putting something like District B13: Ultimatum on 9 screens to start. Lockout hit more than 2000 screens thanks to the presence of Guy Pearce, but $6.2 is what everyone should have expected. It won’t match its $20m reported budget in theaters, and DVD and Blu-Ray sales won’t be much for saviors either. Maybe it’s time to dust off that script for The Professional 2: Mathilda’s Fury.

Here’s how the weekend broke down:

  1. The Hunger Games – $21.5m (-35.1%) $337m total
  2. The Three Stooges – $17.1m NEW
  3. The Cabin in the Woods – $14.8m NEW
  4. Titanic 3D – $11.6m (-32.7%) $44.4m total
  5. American Reunion – $10.7m (-50.3%) $39.9m total
  6. Mirror Mirror – $7m (-36.9%) $49.4m total
  7. Wrath of the Titans – $6.9m (-53.1%) $71.2m total
  8. 21 Jump Street – $6.8m (-32%) $120.5m total
  9. Lockout – $6.2m NEW
  10. Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax – $3m (-40%) $204.4m total

The overall box office slipped once again, back down to $105.6m for the top 10 and back down to a minimal valley. The peak of Summer movies is just around the corner, and no new movie this weekend was going to make that spring up any earlier. The Hunger Games drives the overall up as high as it can each weekend, but even it is beginning to lose steam.

Brighter days with our friends Iron Man and Batman and Spider-Man and The Dictator are fast approaching, but we’ve got next weekend to slog through first. Once again, three new films hit, but, once again, it’s looking good for The Hunger Games. The latest Disney doc, Chimpanzee, hits as do The Lucky One, the latest from Zac Efron, and Think Like a Man, a romantic comedy from the producers of Takers and Obsessed. Time to chill the champagne, Lionsgate. You’ve got one more party scheduled for next Sunday.

We’ll be back later in the week to see how the weekend is shaping up.


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