In a business where the opening weekend is used as a barometer to gauge a film’s success – at least domestically – it’s always interesting to see how well a #1 film does in its second weekend of release. Oftentimes a film will be front heavy, due to anticipation, fan base, etc., and then drop hard its second weekend. A nominal drop is 60 percent. While the last installment in the Harry Potter franchise shattered box office records, scoring the biggest domestic opening of all time, it also had a 72% nosedive in its second weekend. The Dark Knight, another film The Hunger Games is lumped in with due to box office success, opened to $158 million but only suffered a 52.5 percent drop the following weekend.
The Hunger Games falls somewhere in between, losing 60% of its first-week audience. In addition to taking the box office for a second consecutive weekend, it also became the fifth-quickest release to pass $200 million domestically, despite the addition of the Clash of the Titans sequel and the first Snow White film of 2012. Games also broke an Avatar record to become the fastest non-sequel to earn more than $250 million globally.
With the first one in the trilogy out of the way, attention now moves to the inevitable sequel, Catching Fire. It is slated to go in production this summer with a planned November 2013 release. Mockingjay, which will take a page out of the last installments in the Potter and Twilight series, will be stretched to two theatrical releases with the first to arrive during the fourth quarter of 2014.
The success of The Hunger Games meant that somebody had to come in second. And that somebody was Wrath of the Titans. Having to open a week after the YA blockbuster it had the misfortune of underwhelming the masses. Unlike 2010′s Clash of the Titans, which opened with $61 million, the sequel did a little more than half that with $34.2 million. You could look at a number of factors. Clash benefitted opening in the wake of Avatar and the public’s newfound interest in 3D features. Unfortunately, the post-converted 3D of Clash sucked. Jonathan Liebesman, who also directed the looks intriguing Battle: Los Angeles (honest, the marketing campaign – trailers, especially – was quite good), shot Wrath in 3D so the previous ballyhoo about three dimensions was rectified. However, what it gained in an extra D, it lost in terms of storytelling and character development. Action for the sake of action is all well in good, but if it doesn’t push or benefit the genre that much then it loses its impact. Still, despite the weaker opening, expect this one to play very well internationally – which is what help greenlight the first sequel anyway.
Steadily behind Hunger and Wrath was Relativity’s Mirror Mirror. Opening at less than $20 million, the producers and studio will survive on the basis of presold rights alone, which likely means the pic will break even. The weeks that follow should decide its box office fate if more and more kids see it. Geared for 8 to 11 year olds, Mirror Mirror could see itself in the top five in the weeks that follow Easter.
Showing no signs of wanting to leave the top 5 is 21 Jump Street. The ’80s TV crime-drama that allowed Tiger Beat cover model Johnny Depp entertain our homes on a weekly basis has been retrofitted to a restricted comedy with Jonah Hill and the surprisingly good Channing Tatum. It’s going to pass $100 million all thanks in large part to its ability to attract teens, older viewers wanting to wax nostalgia. Add the fact that guys love the comedy and women love Channing Tatum and you have a hit on your hands.
Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax, which had been the biggest domestic grosser of the year until The Hunger Games set fire to the trees, rounds out the top five and now has its eyes set on $200 million.
Moving past John Carter‘s abysmal per-screen average and the Call of Duty movie known as Act of Valor, we see that Salmon Fishing in the Yemen made its debut in the top ten after weeks in limited release. Playing at 483 theaters, it made $1.27 million. That was just enough to place it above Valor and Eddie Murphy’s A Thousand Words which, believe it or not, has made more money than his last leading vehicle, Imagine That.
In terms of limited releases, the biggest story was The Raid: Redemption. Selling out at art houses, the film earned a healthy $284k with per-screen averages of $6k, which is a better p-s than 8 of the films in the top 10. Look for Sony Pictures Classics to expand this release in the coming weeks as the response has been outstanding. The controversial Bully – and by controversial, I mean the MPAA’s antiquated system of rating films – opened at five locations and earned $115k. The Clive Owen thriller Intruders could only account for $40k at 33 engagements across the U.S. Meanwhile, the other doc that debuted this weekend, The Island President opened at two locations and made $15.6k. Not bad for the President of The Maldives.