March 22, 2012


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Written by: Mitch Metcalf
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>The 12th weekend of the year should be a whopper: about $176 million for the top 12 films.  How big is that for the fourth weekend in March?  Enormous, unprecedented: up 62% from last year’s comparable weekend and up 55% from the four-year average for this weekend.  Of course, this weekend is all about The Hunger Games.  You might have heard a thing or two about the film, as the buzz has been extraordinary.           

Opening at 4,137 theaters, The Hunger Games from Lionsgate should average an outstanding $29,900 per theater (for $124 million Friday-Sunday).  [The average wide-release film the past two years has had an opening three-day weekend of $5,525 per theater.]  Reviews at RottenTomatoes are currently running at 91% positive, an indication that this film could play well at least through weeks two through four.  The Hunger Games is on track for a preliminary $360 million domestically.            

New Films                        Critics    Opening  Domestic
March 23-25                      Positive   Weekend   Total*

The Hunger Games         LG   PG13  91%      $124     $360

Note: Although critic reviews are not related to the size of the opening weekend, they are significantly correlated with the size of the declines in the opening weeks of a movie.

* The Domestic Total is a very early ShowBuzzDaily projection of the total North American gross, based on the Weekend Forecasts.

21 Jump Street should decline 44% in its second weekend, a better than average figure and particularly strong in light of the tsunami from The Hunger Games at the top of the weekend chart.  Look for about $20 million in the second weekend for the R-rated buddy comedy.  The Lorax should decline a similar amount in its fourth weekend to almost $13 million.  After the top three, the other films are fairly irrelevant, mostly in the very low single-digit millions of dollars.

Major Returning Films            Change     This    Domestic
March 23-25                     vs wknd 1  Weekend   Total*
21 Jump Street           Sony     -44%      $20.0     $122
The Lorax                Uni      -44%      $12.8     $223
John Carter              Dis      -51%      $ 6.6     $ 82

Project X                WB       -49%      $ 2.1     $ 60

A Thousand Words         Par      -42%      $ 2.1     $ 16

Act of Valor             Rel      -48%      $ 2.0     $ 72  
Safe House               Uni      -69%      $ 1.5     $130 

Journey 2                WB       -61%      $ 1.4     $103

Box Office Volume

For the past four years, the top 12 films in this comparable weekend have averaged $114 million total, ranking 31st of 52 weeks.  Last year this weekend’s total was $109 million, and the same weekend in 2010 was $117 million.  This Friday-Sunday is looking like an unprecedented $176 million, up an enormous 62% from this weekend last year and up a whopping 55% from an “average” comparable weekend over the past four years.  The closest comparison for this weekend comes from 2009, when the top 12 films grossed $139 million as Monsters vs Aliens opened with $59.3 million.           

This Weekend Last Two Years

 Sucker Punch WB PG13 Emily Browning Abbie Cornish 
 Opening Weekend — Forecast: $23  Actual: $19
 Domestic Gross — Estimate: $38  Actual: $36
 International — Estimate: n/a  Actual: $53
 Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Rodrick Rules FOX PG Steve Zahn  
 Opening Weekend — Forecast: $21  Actual: $24
 Domestic Gross — Estimate: $58  Actual: $52
 International — Estimate: n/a  Actual: $19
 How to Train Your Dragon PAR/ DW PG   
 Opening Weekend — Forecast: $44  Actual: $44
 Domestic Gross — Estimate: $175  Actual: $217
 International — Estimate: n/a  Actual: $275
 Hot Tub Time Machine MGM R John Cusack Rob Corddry 
 Opening Weekend — Forecast: $21  Actual: $14
 Domestic Gross — Estimate: $50  Actual: $50
 International — Estimate: n/a  Actual: $12

Read more about the very wide release pattern of The Hunger Games

Check back throughout the weekend for box office updates as the actual numbers come in.


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.