Hunger Games Devours Titans and Julia Roberts
By John Hamann
April 1, 2012
As for the rest of the weekend, let's start by thinking about last weekend, and how the super-gross for The Hunger Games came about (for a better description, read David Mumpower's The Hunger Games Math). The $50.4 million The Hunger Games earned last Saturday was the second biggest ever, behind only Spider-Man 3, which took in $51.3 million. It beat the Saturdays of the two films that opened bigger, The Dark Knight ($47.7 million Saturday) and Deathly Hallows Part 2 ($42.4 million). Then, on Sunday, The Hunger Games dropped back, mostly because of the calendar date. As we know, summer days make it much easier to see a film late on a Sunday night. In theory, the same thing should happen this weekend. Without the late showings on Thursday night, the second weekend behavior for The Hunger Games should be a decent Friday, followed by a huge Saturday, with a softer Sunday, at least compared to the biggest openers of all time.
This weekend, The Hunger Games performed as expected, with a weekend haul of $61.1 million, and a solid drop of 60%. Why is a 50%+ drop solid? In box office, the rule is usually simple: the bigger they are, the harder they fall. The Twilight films certainly know that adage – both New Moon and Breaking Dawn Part 1 fell 70%. Spider-Man 3, now the fourth-biggest opener of all time, fell 62%. The Dark Knight, which (at the time) went on to be the second biggest grosser of all-time, fell 53%. Considering that advance tickets sales are now a huge reality with opening weekends, the risk of the bigger drop is even larger, and in my opinion, The Hunger Games did quite well in its second outing. Additionally, The Hunger Games had a limited IMAX engagement that ended on Thursday, so we're also not factoring in those higher ticket prices in this second frame. Since we know that those shows were full to capacity last weekend, it's not unrealistic to think that a lot of money was left on the table because those theaters were given to Wrath of the Titans instead.
With this information, where is The Hunger Games headed? I believe the drop this weekend is good news for The Hunger Games. The second weekend is in the top five all-time, which is led by Avatar at $75.6 million and The Dark Knight at $75.2 million, two films The Hunger Games didn't have much of a shot at. While it is really to early to forecast, at this point I would say The Hunger Games is looking like a $400 million film stateside, and has a cume so far of $251 million, having crossed the $200 million mark on Friday, its eighth day of release.
Finishing second is Wrath of the Titans, sequel to Clash of the Titans, which fooled $61.2 million worth of ticket buyers on opening weekend exactly two years ago. Audiences (surprisingly) woke up this weekend and punished the Titans franchise for putting such a bad film on the screen the last time. Wrath of the Titans opened to only $34.2 million, or just better than half of the original. It went out to 3,545 venues – many in 3D – and garnered a venue average of $9,647. The makers of Wrath of the Titans not only took a hit in the revenue department, Warner Bros. also chose to spend more on this one, increasing the budget from $125 million to $150 million. Like last time, they decided to convert the film to 3D after the film-making process completed. This got them into trouble with Clash of the Titans, as the 3D made a bad film even worse due to shoddy workmanship.