Box Office: ‘The Hunger Games’ Kills Everyone Else’s Chances of Box Office Superiority

By  · Published on March 27th, 2012

Take all the box office records out there, the biggest openings and fastest to whatever astronomical dollar amount is considered a hit these days, put them up on a wall, and throw a dart. Chances are good whichever you one you hit, The Hunger Games either ranked exceedingly high on it or it took the #1 spot with a fury. The record shifting began early with the film, the first of many if Lionsgate has anything to do with it, boasting the 15th widest opening in history. Then, with $19.7m, The Hunger Games set the record for midnight sales for a non-sequel. We’re getting into some qualifiers here, but non-sequels being hits are a rare breed these days.

It continued throughout the weekend with the film coming in with the fifth biggest opening day ($67.2m), the second biggest Saturday ever ($50.3m), and capping the weekend off nicely with the third largest opening weekend in history. The $152.5m it made in those three days fit The Hunger Games in right behind The Dark Knight with $158.4m and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 with $169.1m. At that point breaking the record for the biggest March opening became a secondary award, probably one the movie left in the back seat of a cab. Any comparisons to Twilight are sure to be extinct at this point.

With a reported budget of $78m, it’s actually shocking Lionsgate didn’t have a press release ready to run first thing Monday morning announcing production to begin on The Hunger Games Saga Episode 2: Catching Fire probably sometime around mid-day Tuesday. The movie not only ended up with the biggest opening weekend for the studio, in three days it became the highest grossing film they’ve ever put out topping Fahrenheit 9/11’s $119.2m pulled in over a span of 114 days. You know a sequel is coming for The Hunger Games, and, if Lionsgate has anything to do with it, everyone will be returning for this one. To those who don’t have a multi-picture contract already set with them, I say CONGRATULATIONS!

Go ahead and send some congratulatory love over to Fandango, as well, who sold 22% of The Hunger Games’ weekend take. That’s $33.5m worth of tickets purchased through the online ticketing company. The film also tops Fandango’s record for most opening weekend tickets sold through their mobile app. I’m sure sales on crossbows went up exponentially, as well, but no one’s reporting on it.

Another big congratulations goes to October Baby. What’s that? You haven’t heard of it, either? It’s a film about a young woman who learns she was not only adopted, she is the survivor of an attempted abortion. Hot blooded issues tend to drive audiences, and it didn’t hurt that Samuel Goldwyn Films and Provident Films distributed it to 390 theaters. It ended up with a $4352 per screen average, raked in $1.7m, and ended up #8 on the weekend chart. Not bad at all for a film that had absolutely zilch in the way of mass media publicity.

For those keeping score, The Raid: Redemption also had a decent per theater average, $15,270 in each for a weekend gross of $213,785. Plans are surely in motion by Sony Classics to get the actioner into more theaters in the coming weeks.

Here’s how the weekend broke down:

  1. The Hunger Games – $152.5m NEW
  2. 21 Jump Street – $20.4m (-43.6%) $70.2m total
  3. Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax – $13.1m (-41.1%) $177.4m total
  4. John Carter – $5m (-62.6%) $62.4m total
  5. Act of Valor – $2m (-45.3%) $65.9m total
  6. A Thousand Words – $1.9m (-46.3%) $14.9m total
  7. Project X – $1.9m (-52.2%) $51.7m total
  8. October Baby – $1.7m NEW
  9. Safe House – $1.4m (-48.4%) $122.5m total
  10. Journey 2: The Mysterious Island – $1.3m (-43.2%) $97.1m total

No March weekend has ever topped $200m until now. Up until a few years ago, no weekend in March ever broke $100m. With The Hunger Games leading the charge – it’s obvious math to see that every, other film in release combined couldn’t top what The Hunger Games brought to the table – the weekend raked in $201.2m. With this kind of opening married to the dominated success of Fast Five last April, you know studio execs are looking at the end of March/beginning of April as the new start date for the Summer movie season. Bigger blockbuster will find their way into theaters earlier in the year, and, before you know it, the whole year will just be one, long, blockbuster month.

Okay, that’s a big extreme, but movies like The Hunger Games, Alice in Wonderland, and, yes, Twilight, keep making months like November, March, and April just as lucrative as May through July. The way we’re headed, we could see The Avengers Part 5: Hulkie’s Revenge hitting sometime in January of 2024. Again, extreme, but you know it’s not completely outside the realm of possibility.

A couple of poor bastards potential earners hit next weekend. Wrath of the Titans and Mirror, Mirror, the worse-looking of the two Snow White movies hitting this year, find their way into multiple thousands of theaters. The Hunger Games won’t be stepping aside, though. There might be a close race between it and Titans, but, when all is said and done, we won’t see anything this astounding until May when the prequel to Hulkie’s Revenge hits.

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