Some of you may be purposely avoiding the theaters this weekend as a means to avoid the sheer number of people that are flocking to see The Hunger Games. But it’s not just fans of the books that are making it a point to see it opening weekend. If that were the case then the film wouldn’t have had a record-shattering first-day opening of $68.25 million in North America. Playing at more than 4,100 locations, with a screen count of nearly 10,000 prints, the first entry in Suzanne Collins’ best-selling trilogy is on its way to have a three-day gross of $140 million. It’s already made noise with the $19.75 million it made from midnight showings. Other records that The Hunger Games has achieved thus far includes: the highest non-sequel opening weekend ever, the highest debut single day for a non-sequel ever, the highest March opening ever, and the 5th highest opening day ever.
Both the production team and Lionsgate’s marketing department share the credit for this collaboration to get people out to see it opening weekend. With a dynamite cast that is almost on par with the ensembles for the Harry Potter films plus a smartly done advertising campaign (both theatrical trailers were devoid of showing any footage of the Games itself), anticipation for The Hunger Games just snowballed into it becoming the first legitimate blockbuster of 2012. Helping its cause is the type of audience it is attracting. If you read this week’s Monday Morning Critic then you got Kubryk’s critical analysis in acknowledging the fact The Hunger Games is avoiding to appeal to one specific demo, unlike the Twilight Series which is geared for women. And just observing some of the people entering and leaving the theaters today proves this much. Men and women, young and old, are making this an event.
The subject matter has surely piqued the interest of those unfamiliar with the books. And then you have the inundation of promotional material on television and online. Add an 8-mall publicity tour, five global premieres (in LA, London, Paris, Berlin and New York) and fifty-plus magazine covers and you have the hype machine in full force trying to make it a blockbuster before it’s shown to the masses.
Studio Lionsgate, outside of the Saw franchise and the first few Tyler Perry movies, hasn’t had much success. So this opening is a surreal feeling for most of the executives on board. Knowing that they recently purchased Summit Entertainment, they’ll have this experience at least one more time this calendar year when The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 2 opens in theaters.