March 25, 2012



Hope you like Hunger Games rip-offs, because plenty of them are on the way.
OPENINGS:  The 3d biggest opening weekend of all time, the 2d best Saturday, the 4th best Sunday… and is it done?  Lionsgate is estimating a reasonable 29% Sunday drop for THE HUNGER GAMES, but considering that the movie has overperformed spectacularly at every step, it’s worth noting that Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 declined only 16% on its first Sunday, and The Dark Knight somehow fell less than 9%–and that Dark Knight‘s opening weekend, the 2d best ever, is only $3.4M above Hunger Games‘ current estimate.  So stay tuned for tomorrow, when the Sunday grosses will actually have been counted and final weekend numbers are announced.

Hunger Games looks like it’s going to be one of the increasingly rare instances of a blockbuster that does markedly better in the US than overseas.  It was released simultaneously in 67 territories this weekend, representing all but a handful (Spain, Italy, Japan, South Korea) of major nations, and grossed $59M–which is plenty of money, but just a shadow of its domestic weekend.  Not that Lionsgate will be complaining, but expect a much more intensive international push next time around.
The only other semi-wide opening of the weekend was the anti-abortion tract OCTOBER BABY (Goldwyn), which made it to $1.7M at 390 theatres through targeted openings and ticket packages pre-sold to allied religious and political groups.  Its $4400 per-theatre average was considerably lower than the $8K average of the previous “faith-based” opening Courageous (which opened in 3x as many theatres). 
HOLDOVERSSony has to be pretty happy that despite Hunger Games’ domination of every multiplex this weekend, 21 JUMP STREET held on for a mere 41% drop. That was even better than the 43% decline for THE LORAX (Universal).  No such luck for JOHN CARTER (Disney), though, which plummeted by 63%, making the studio’s ink even redder.  Anyone who thought the idea of Will Ferrell speaking Spanish was amusing went to see CASA DE MI PADRE (Lionsgate) in its first weekend–the studio tried expanding the run by 25% in Weekend 2, only to be rebuffed with an ugly 52% drop.  FRIENDS WITH KIDS (Roadside Attractions) saved some dignity after last week’s awful attempt to expand; it dropped 15% of its theatres but fell only 40%, for a decent mid-indie boxoffice total of $5.6M.  Other longrunners like SAFE HOUSE (Universal), ACT OF VALOR (Relativity), PROJECT X (Warners) and JOURNEY 2 (Warners) lost theatres and were down 43-53%.
LIMITED RELEASESSALMON FISHING IN THE YEMEN (CBS) expanded effectively, doubling its theatres to 124 and rising 52% with a pretty good $5500 average.  JEFF WHO LIVES AT HOME (Paramount Vantage) fell only 30%, but with a low $2500 per-screen average.  THE RAID: REDEMPTION (Sony Classics) got off to a promising start, with a $16K average at 14 theatres.  The documentary JIRO DREAMS OF SUSHI (Magnolia) and FOOTNOTE (Sony Classics) both expanded well to 27 and 23 theatres respectively, each with about a $7K average.  THE DEEP BLUE SEA (Music Box), though, could only manage a $4K average at 29.

About the Author

Mitch Salem
MITCH SALEM has worked on the business side of the entertainment industry for 20 years, as a senior business affairs executive and attorney for such companies as NBC, ABC, USA, Syfy, Bravo, and BermanBraun Productions, and before that, at the NY law firm of Weil, Gotshal & Manges. During all that, he has more or less constantly been going to the movies and watching TV, and writing about both since the 1980s. His film reviews also currently appear on and In addition, he is co-writer of an episode of the television series "Felicity."