Weekend Movie Preview (3.23.12)

It’s here. One of the most anticipated non-sequels in movie history, “The Hunger Games” plays its way into theaters to kick off spring break. Just how high will it soar? 


Now in Theaters

The Hunger Games

Directed by Gary Ross
Written by Gary Ross, Suzanne Collins and Billy Ray
Starring: Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth

Summary: In a dystopian North America divided into districts and ruled by the wealthy Capitol, 16-year-old Katniss Everdeen (Lawrence) volunteers to take her sister’s place when her sister is chosen by lottery to participate in the annual Hunger Games, a tournament in which young people must battle to the death.

The Word: Forget all comparison’s to “Twilight,” Suzanne Collins’ young-adult novels have been more widely popular and acclaimed. Collins helped write the film as well, so expect it to be loyal, and expect Lawrence, an Oscar nominee and star of “X-Men: First Class,” to launch to superstardom as the central heroine. With record pre-sales, many believe this is the start of another film phenomenon.

Rotten Tomatoes: 88% (great)

My Thoughts: I cannot remember a film that had this big of a build-up, and I think a good part of it has to do with social media. I’m a big fan of these books minus romance elements, and this first one involves the least amount of love triangle. I won’t run to a midnight screening, but the marketing team has done a remarkable job building hype while not giving away a single action set piece.


Box Office Predictions

The first “Twilight” book opened to $69.9 million, but like I said, this is no “Twilight.” The key is the appeal across genders and the appeal across ages. We already know that this movie has had the third biggest ticket pre-sales of all time behind “The Twilight Saga: New Moon” (opening of $148.2 million) and “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2” (record-holding opening of $169.1 million). So, with that in mind, I have The Hunger Games pegged for $140 million. I think a top-five opening all time should be expected, quite impressive for a film that’s not a sequel. It would easily be the biggest opening from a non-sequel all time.

Everything should scoot down accordingly. 21 Jump Street should have a nice second weekend thanks to word of mouth, likely $20 million. The Lorax will take third with $10-15 million, John Carter fourth with $6 million and though it’s up in the air when you get down to this little money, Project X in fifth.

1. The Hunger Games
2. 21 Jump Street
3. The Lorax
4. John Carter
5. Project X


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