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Weekend Predictions: How Hungry are Moviegoers?

March 22nd, 2012

At the beginning of the month, most people were expecting The Hunger Games to have one of the biggest openings of March and one of the all-time biggest openings for a non-sequel film. However, that's changed... for the better. Instead of analysts predicting $70 million to $80 million over its opening weekend, expectations have grown to the point where it could earn over $100 million over the next three days and still be considered a disappointment. In fact, there are many who are predicting The Hunger Games will make more by itself than the entire industry made last year. Needless to say, if that happened, 2012 will make up for last week's 3.6% year-over-year decline in a huge way.

How big will The Hunger Games be? Let's put it this way, it's already sold close to 3 million tickets and generate close to $20 million in spending. It is having one of the best pre-release sales of all time. Literally thousands of showings are already sold out, including most of the midnight shows. Before we get too excited about the show's chances, it could all be hype and once the word-of-mouth gets out, the movie could collapse. There is a chance that will happen; after all, the hype is so extreme short legs are almost inevitable. However, its reviews are currently 89% positive. That's the best score for any truly wide release this year and only film to open in the top ten to do better was The Secret World of Arrietty at 94% positive. I still think the film will be very front-loaded, but I also think the studio is already working on the sequel based solely on presales. Currently the record for biggest March opening and biggest non-sequel opening is held by Alice in Wonderland at $116.10 million. If The Hunger Games doesn't make at least that much, it will be seen as a disappointment. On the high end, it could finish in a battle for fifth place on the all-time opening chart with close to $140 million. I'm going with $128 million, which might be a little above the average prediction, but not widely outside of the range we're seeing.

The rest of the top five will almost be an afterthought. 21 Jump Street will be the best of the rest with $20 million, more or less. It will have $50 million before the end of business on Thursday, so this would push its running tally to $70 million after just ten days of release and keep it on track to become the fourth film of 2012 to reach the century mark. The Hunger Games will beat it to that milestone.

Dr. Seuss' The Lorax will be the only other film to top $10 million over the weekend. Look for between $12 million and $13 million for a running tally of $177 million. It is on pace to reach $200 million, but The Hunger Games might get there first.

It almost feels mean to talk about John Carter given its box office struggles and the predicted explosive opening of The Hunger Games. Odds are this film will sink to just over $6 million during the weekend. It is on pace to top original expectations, barely.

Project X, Act of Valor, and A Thousand Words will all be fighting for fifth place with $2 million over the weekend.


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Filed under: Weekend Preview, A Thousand Words, Doctor Seuss' The Lorax, John Carter, 21 Jump Street, The Hunger Games, Project X, The Secret World of Arietty, Act of Valor