Monday, March 26, 2012
'Hunger Games' devours the competition at box office
From usatoday, The Hunger Games thundered to the third best debut in history this weekend with $155 million, launching a franchise that could challenge the Twilight series.
Hunger's haul exceeded most analysts' highest expectations and marked a huge opening for a movie that is not a sequel. . The two films with bigger debuts are Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2 ($169.1 million) and The Dark Knight ($158 million).
The film, based on Suzanne Collins' popular trilogy about a dystopian future and starring Jennifer Lawrence, broke from the gate at midnight Friday, earning $19.7 million and seventh place in the midnight screening record books. Hallows remains the runaway champ, collecting $43.5 million in its midnight shows last year.
Gitesh Pandya, an analyst for Boxofficeguru, says that teen fans of the 2008 novel propelled the hit. "A massive built-in audience has been hungry for this movie," he says.
In the long run, Pandya says, the Hunger trilogy could challenge the Twilight series by appealing to both genders.
"One major difference is that (Hunger) has more male appeal," he says, adding that distributor Lionsgate "has been emphasizing the action in its male-skewing TV spots, and the romance is a minor part of the story, anyway."
Males and females responded strongly to the film, promising a healthy run through March and much of April. A whopping 95% of moviegoers recommended the movie, according to survey site Rottentomatoes.com. Critics weren't far behind; 86% of reviewers gave it a thumbs-up, the site says.
The studio plans to release part two, Catching Fire, on Nov. 22, 2013. Analysts say at least a three-part series is inevitable.
Hunger "is the first true event film of 2012," says Tim Briody of Boxofficeprophets.com. "This is largely unprecedented for any franchise, much less a new one. It's the sort of behavior you'd expect from a sequel, not the first entry in an unproven series."
No studio challenged Hunger this weekend, leaving the remaining slots near the top of the box office to holdovers.
The comedy 21 Jump Street took second with $21.3 million, followed by the animated film The Lorax with $13.1 million.
John Carter, the $250 million sci-fi flop, was fourth with $5 million. The fantasy film has made $62.3 million in three weeks.
The action film Act of Valor rounded out the top five with $2.1 million.
Hunger helped propel movie attendance to 22% over the same period last year.
Final figures are due today.