If you’ve paid any attention at all to the cultural whirlwind that is The Hunger Games, then you are aware that it was released into theaters this weekend. And you’re probably also aware that it’s been pretty successful so far.
The film earned a whopping $19.75M from midnight showings on Thursday night, enough to set the record for the highest midnight gross for a non-sequel ever. It was nowhere near enough to sit near the haul that the final installment of the Harry Potter franchise raked in from its midnight showings ($43.5M), nor did it come close to the $30.3M, $30.1M, and $26.3M hauls of the last three Twilight films.
However, $19.75M is more than enough for the largest midnight gross ever for a non-sequel, and it is the 7th largest midnight opening of all-time, one spot ahead of 2008’s The Dark Knight, which grossed $18.5M from its midnight openings. (source)
Even more impressive, however, is what happened throughout the rest of the day. On Friday, The Hunger Games earned a massive-if-not-absurd $68.3M, good enough for the 5th best opening day gross of all time, ahead of films like The Dark Knight ($67.2M) and even Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1 ($61.7M).
Here is the full list of the top 10 opening days of all-time, courtesy of Box Office Mojo.
- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2, $91.1 million
- The Twilight Saga: New Moon, $72.7 million
- The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn—Part 1, $71.6 million
- The Twilight Saga: Eclipse, $68.5 million
- The Hunger Games, $68.3 million
- The Dark Knight, $67.2 million
- Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, $62 million
- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1, $61.7 million
- Spider-Man 3, $60 million
- Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, $58.2 million
You’ll notice that, of those 10 films, The Hunger Games is, again, the only non-sequel of the group. All of the other films have a built-in fan base not just from novels and comic books, but from previous films with track records that audiences can look at to determine the film’s quality.
While The Hunger Games’ $68.3M Friday gross is behind the last three Twilight films and the final Harry Potter installment, it still comes off as wildly impressive for two reasons. The first reason is that, as stated, it isn’t a sequel, so there is no built-in film fanbase. The second, however, is that The Hunger Games’ midnight showings account to only less 30% of its total Friday haul. For the top 4 films on that list, the percentage of midnight gross taken from the films’ total Friday gross are 48%, 42%, 42%, and 38%, respectively.
It appears that The Hunger Games could be far less frontloaded than those films, and its weekend haul could end up looking more like The Dark Knight than Twilight. However, I would never expect The Hunger Games to earn $158.4M on opening weekend like The Dark Knight did. But the film does serve to show a grossing pattern that The Hunger Games could see.
In its first 3 days, The Dark Knight grossed $67.2M, $47.6M, and $43.6M; those are drops of 29.1% and 8.5% between days, respectively. Compare that with Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 1, which suffered drops of 44.1% and 33.9% between days during its first weekend in theaters.
While I don’t think that The Hunger Games will perform as well as The Dark Knight, I also don’t think it will drop as badly as Breaking Dawn Part 1, especially since The Hunger Games is playing to such a wide demographic; males are making up nearly 40% of the film’s audience, with females at 60%, and age is almost evenly split above and below the 25-year mark. So it’s reasonable to think that the drops for The Hunger Games will fall somewhere between those for The Dark Knight and Breaking Dawn Part 1.
So, say that we split the difference and The Hunger Games shoots the gap by dropping 36.6% between Friday and Saturday and 21.2% between Saturday and Sunday. That would put its Saturday gross around $43.3M, and its Sunday gross around $34.1M.
Add those to its $68.3M Friday gross, and The Hunger Games is potentially looking at a whopping $145.7M for its opening weekend haul, a smashing success for a non-sequel. The current non-sequel opening weekend record is $116.1M, set in 2010 by Alice in Wonderland, which also owns the record for the best-ever March opening weekend. The second best non-sequel opening was Spider-Man in 2002, which grossed $114.8M in its first three days.
An opening weekend gross of $145.7M would place The Hunger Games at #4 on the all-time charts, behind Spider-Man 3 ($151.1M) and ahead of Twilight Saga: New Moon ($142.8M). It’s going to be very interesting to see just how well The Hunger Games performs over the next two days.
My previous prediction for its opening weekend haul was $134.5M, which looked to be too high after the midnight numbers came in, but is slowly looking better and better; even if its grosses drop like Twilight on Saturday and Sunday, it still stands to make about $130M over the weekend. And if it performs like The Dark Knight, well, it could break the $160M barrier. But let’s not get carried away.
Lionsgate appears to have a huge success on its hands, as its best-grossing movie to date is Michael Moore’s 9/11 documentary Fahrenheit 9/11, which took in a total of $119.1M during its theatrical run. No doubt the light has been lit green for the sequels to The Hunger Games, and it appears that, given how audiences are taking to the adaptation of Suzanne Collins’ introductory novel, we could be looking at even more records down the road.
Do you want to see The Hunger Games? Have you seen The Hunger Games? What did you think of the movie? How much money do you think it will make over the weekend? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below!