March 23, 2012

THE BOXOFFICE GAMES BEGIN: “Hunger Games” At Midnight

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Written by: Mitch Salem
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THE HUNGER GAMES has an excuse.
Last night at midnight, The Hunger Games began its long-awaited run in theatres by grossing $19.7M.  Which is, by any estimation, a lot of money–the most ever earned by a non-sequel, and the 7th highest midnight ever.  But… it’s less than half the $43.5M of the midnight record holder, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (Part 2)–which is understandable.  But… it’s also considerably less than any of the midnights for the last 3 Twilight movies, all of which earned $26-30M, and lower than Deathly Hallows Part 1, with $24M.  For a movie that’s been reportedly heading for a weekend at their levels, is that a little disappointing?

It turns out, not so much.  Somewhat oddly, although Hunger Games will be showing in 4137 theatres starting today, only 2565 of them opened for midnight shows last night.  In comparison, the Harry Potter and Twilight movies all played in at least 3500 theatres for their midnight runs.  That puts Hunger Games‘ per-theatre average for midnight right in the middle of the Twilights and Deathly Hallows Part 1, and may lead to a better multiple for its Friday gross today than those pictures had on their full opening days:

Eclipse:  44% of opening day gross from midnight screenings
Breaking Dawn Part 1:  42%
Deathly Hallows Part 1:  39%
New Moon:  36%
With almost $20M already in the bank, the one opening day record that Hunger Games should surpass easily is that for non-sequels, since the current record-holder, Alice in Wonderland, did relatively little midnight business on its way to a $40.8M Friday, and #2, the original Spider-Man with $39.4M, opened 10 years ago.  The question is how far into the ranks of the franchises it can climb.


Stay with SHOWBUZZDAILY all weekend for updated boxoffice and analysis!

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."