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The Hunger Games set to gobble up March box office record

By Dominic Rushe, The Guardian
Wednesday, March 21, 2012 23:47 EDT
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Movie analysts suggest film could beat Twilight and take up to $125m on its opening weekend – a record for a March release.

The Hunger Games, which opens Friday, could set new record for a pre-summer blockbuster, movie industry executives are predicting.

The hotly-anticipated movie could take up to $125m at the US box office this weekend, according to movie analysts. The sum would set a new record for a March opening.

The Hunger Games, based on Suzanne Collins’ best-selling trilogy, tells the story of Katniss Everdeen, a young girl living in a dystopian world where children are forced to fight for their lives in an annual reality TV show.

Keith Simanton, managing editor of IMDB, the film industry website, said the movie and its two stars, Jennifer Lawrence and Josh Hutcherson, were the three most-searched-for terms on the site.

“Early indication are that it’s going to be huge,” Simanton said. Interest in the film has been rising sharply online, he said. “When you see something with a bow wave like this, that’s usually indicative,” he said.

The movie was made by Lionsgate, which also turned the Twilight series into a global phenomenon, especially for teenage girls. The first Twilight movie made $69m on its opening weekend. Breaking Dawn, the first part of the final Twilight movie, made $138m on its first weekend.

Phil Contrino, editor of Boxoffice.com, revised his estimate from $115m to $125m this week. “This is going to be bigger than Twilight,” he said. “That [Twilight] was a movie girls had to drag boys kicking and screaming to go see. This one has more to offer them.”

Contrino has been tracking mentions of the movie on Twitter and Facebook and said there had been a noticeable spike over the past month. “There are very clear parallels between activity of Facebook and Twitter and a movie’s success. If no one is talking about it, you probably don’t have a hit on your hands,” he said.

Contrino pointed to the success of The Lorax, a 3D adaptation of Dr Seuss’s famous children’s book. The film was panned by critics and the New York Times called it a “noisy, useless piece of junk”. But it made $70m in the US on its opening weekend, the biggest opening so far this year. Lorax received a lot of positive attention on Facebook and Twitter.

The Hunger Games is getting good reviews and a lot of social media attention. It’s going to be massive,” Contrino said.

The record for a March opening is currently held by Alice in Wonderland, starring Johnny Depp. The Tim Burton-directed movie made $116m in its first weekend. But as a 3D movie it benefited from higher ticket prices.

“The Hunger Games will be happy if they make $70m because that would be better than Twilight. If they beat Breaking Dawn, that will be really something to shout about,” said Simanton. “It might not live up to the hype, but I think it’s gonna.”

And if it does, expect to hear a lot more about the next movie, said Jeremy Kay, Screen International’s US editor. “Every studio wants a franchise these days,” said Kay. “If The Hunger Games does as well as people are expecting, expect to hear that the next movie is going into production within a week. And then they’ll chop the third book into two.”

© Guardian News and Media 2012

 
 
 
 
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