March 27, 2012


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Written by: Mitch Metcalf
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>Now 12 full weeks into 2012, year-to-date domestic box office is running 26% ahead of last year’s worrisome pace, and the year-to-date total is now fully 15% ahead of the comparable period’s average for the last several years.  The Hunger Games lived up to the hype and played like an early summer tentpole in March.         

The Past Week: Total Box Office Volume

All films in wide release playing between March 19 and March 25 grossed an incredible $238 million, up 61% from the same week in 2011 and up 57% from the four-year average for the comparable week.  Year to date, 2012 is now running 26% ahead of 2011 (up from 23% last week) and now 15% ahead of the average for the same period the last four years (up from 11% last week).        

All Wide-Release Films March 19-25
(millions)           4yr              vs      vs
             2011    Avg     2012    2011    Avg

Week #12     $148    $151    $238    +61%

Year to Date $1782   $1966   $2253   +26%    +15%

Weekend Actuals versus Studio Estimates

The opening weekend for The Hunger Games came in at $152.535 million (holding on to the #3 spot for all-time opening weekend), down a reasonable 1.6% from the studio estimate issued by Lionsgate on Sunday morning.  The latest box office phenom grossed $67.3 million Friday, declined to $50.4 million Saturday, then finished the weekend with $34.9 million Sunday.  The most relevant comparisons are the #2 and #4 all-time opening weekends:  The Dark Knight: $158.4 million opening — $67.2 million/ $47.7 million/ $43.6 million by day; Spider-Man 3 $151.1 opening weekend — $59.8 million/ $51.3 million/ $39.9.  Of the three films, The Hunger Games had the highest Friday (narrowly beating Dark Knight), the second highest Saturday, but the lowest Sunday.  Does this mean The Hunger Games will not have legs?  We really won’t know until the Monday-Thursday numbers are in and more importantly until the second weekend is in.  But given the very positive reviews, the film should hold up extremely well.         

Updated Estimates of Final Grosses

The ShowbuzzDaily Domestic Grosses (the estimated North American gross when the film ends its run) are summarized below for films released the last six weeks.  Pay attention to the final domestic grosses, which are much more important than individual weekend grosses and especially weekend rankings. 

The Hunger Games $396 million (99 percentile)
Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax $210 million (94 percentile)
21 Jump Street $125 million (85 percentile) 
John Carter $76 million (70 percentile)  
Act of Valor $71 million (67 percentile) 
Project X $57 million (59 percentile) 

Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance $51 million (56 percentile) 
Tyler Perry’s Good Deeds $34 million (42 percentile) 
Secret World of Arrietty $19 million (19 percentile)  

Wanderlust $17 million (17 percentile) 

A Thousand Words $15 million (13 percentile) 
Gone $11 million (8 percentile)

Silent House $11 million (8 percentile)

Weekend Predictions for March 30-April 1 should be posted late Wednesday.


About the Author

Mitch Metcalf
MITCH METCALF has been tracking every US film release of over 500 screens (over 2300 movies and counting) since the storied weekend of May 20, 1994, when Maverick and Beverly Hills Cop 3 inspired countless aficionados to devote their lives to the art of cinema. Prior to that, he studied Politics and Economics at Princeton in order to prepare for his dream of working in television. He has been Head of West Coast Research at ABC, then moved to NBC in 2000 and became Head of Scheduling for 11 years.