We at ComicBook.com are sitting back and laughing at the astonishment over the THR report that “The Hunger Games” is tracking better than “The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part I.” The latter film took in $138.1 million in its opening weekend last November. Bloggers and media folks are having a hard time believing that “The Hunger Games” will crush the box office.
Well, you heard it here first on March 2nd in our March preview post. And if you don’t want to click through, here’s what we said: “Prediction: “The Hunger Games” breaks the March opening weekend box office record and cruises to $275 million in the U.S.” The current all-time March opening record is held by “Alice In Wonderland,” which brought in $116.1 million. So we’re on record as saying Jennifer Lawrence and company will bring in over $116 million. And at this point, it’s completely rational to think topping $138.1 is possible. Why?
Legions of Fans. And boy, do I mean legions. Mind you, we’re not talking “Harry Potter” legions, but this is a loyal, hardcore group of folks. Heck, entire families on my street have read the book. This isn’t a mom and a son going to see a film—this is a family outing. “The Hunger Games” book sold a crapload of books prior to the past few months. But since audiences have learned the film is around the corner, the book has gone viral. Look at the Amazon.com bestseller list—3 of the top 4 books are the Trilogy. The book is still picking up steam, and a deeper audience is coming in full force.
Advance ticket sales. We know that first day advance ticket sales broke all previous records for Fandango. Hundreds of showtimes sold out the first day, and advance tickets continue to sell. It’s pretty easy to track numbers when you know how many tickets have been sold. It wouldn’t surprise us to see $40 million in pre-sales for opening weekend.
Lionsgate’s Marketing. We’ve said time and again that Lionsgate’s run-up marketing campaign is the best we’ve seen in probably 25 years. At this point, the marketing campaign for this film should be put in a top 10 ALL TIME. Yes, all time. From an outstanding Twitter campaign, advance showing contests, incorporating charity with the film, and brilliantly releasing photos, interviews, and clips, Lionsgate has transformed the audience for “The Hunger Games. A little over 3 months ago, this film was a niche film that was going to bring in respectable numbers on the backs of hardcore fans. As of today, the audience now includes massively growing numbers of folks that haven’t read the books. And Lionsgate did this on the cheap. They didn’t toss out millions on a Super Bowl Commercial and crash the airwaves with ad after ad (like Disney did with “John Carter”). They did it with new media, and by empowering potential moviegoers. The audience was part of this campaign, and as a result, they’ll see the film out of loyalty. It’s a campaign that will be taught in film schools for years to come—or it should be.
So THAT’s why this film is tracking so well. And we won’t tell you we told you so—just remember where you heard it first. :)