March 24, 2012

THE BOXOFFICE GAMES: “Hunger Games” Day 1 – Early Numbers – 3/23/12


Boxoffice numbers have been bouncing around all day (Per-theatre averages as of 3PM Pacific time!  Number of left-handed, red-haired patrons sitting through the entire end credits!), and they’re still not final or official, but a preliminary picture is starting to come together of THE HUNGER GAMES’ first day in theatres.  Both Deadline and The Hollywood Reporter are estimating a $65-70M Friday, and whatever the exact number turns out to be, this puts Hunger Games exactly where it wanted, somewhere around 4th or 5th place all-time.  It should be in the range of Twilight:  Eclipse ($68.5M) and The Dark Knight ($67.2M), and probably a little below the other 2 recent Twilights, New Moon ($72.3M) and Breaking Dawn Part 1 ($71.6M).  Hunger Games is effortlessly blowing by the previous highest non-sequel record holder, Alice In Wonderland‘s comparatively puny $40.8M.  It’s also by far the biggest opening ever for Lionsgate (although now that the studio is combined with Summit, comparisons would include the Twilight openings).

The particularly impressive thing about the Hunger Games Friday is that it’s much less front-loaded with Thursday midnight grosses than the Twilight movies have been, with around 70% of the Friday number coming post-midnight (compared to 56-64% for the Twilights), an early sign of good word of mouth.  Hunger Games is behaving more like The Dark Knight, which made 72.5% of its Friday gross post-midnight and had an extremely leggy run, with only 30% of its boxoffice total coming from opening weekend, compared to 44-49% for the Twilights and Harry Potters.  While the A grade from CinemaScore has limited meaning on such a fan-driven title, what’s interesting demographically is that 39% of the Friday audience was reportedly male, compared to 20% for New Moon and Breaking Dawn Part 1–a very valuable widening of the interested audience..
Next, of course, is Saturday, which is where many recent blockbusters have foundered on front-loading:  the falls for New Moon and Breaking Dawn Part 1 were 42-44% (Eclipse opened on a Wednesday, so it had a different dynamic), and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Parts 1 and 2 fell 38% and 53%, respectively.  The Dark Knight, though, was down only 29% on its first Saturday, another sign of good word of mouth,  (Alice In Wonderland actually went up on its Saturday, but that was due to a combination of relatively little Thursday midnight business and high family demand for its matinees.)
And yes, there were other movies playing in theatres on Friday, although far, far behind the leader.  All things considered, 21 JUMP STREET (Sony) held up pretty well under the assault, down around 50% for the weekend, which is a fairly normal 2d week drop.  THE LORAX (Universal) will probably have a similar drop, but JOHN CARTER (Disney) is headed for a 60% crash as its ugliness continues.  Also notable is the anti-abortion vehicle OCTOBER BABY (Goldwyn), which is finding its particular specialized audience in only 398 theatres and could get to a $5K per-theatre average this weekend.  
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."