‘Hunger Games’ feeds fan cravings with 2nd box office win

April 1, 2012

Filmgoers brought big appetites for “The Hunger Games” to box offices over the weekend as the blockbuster movie added $95.9 million in global ticket sales and pushed the worldwide total since its record-setting debut to $365 million.

The Lions Gate Entertainment <LGF.N> movie about teenagers forced into a deadly survival match ranked No. 1 for the second straight weekend on domestic charts. Ticket sales in the United States and Canada reached an estimated $61.1 million from Friday through Sunday, according to studio estimates. 

At international theaters, “Hunger Games” pulled in $34.8 million over the weekend. The massive worldwide total since the movie’s release 10 days ago reached $364.9 million. 

The film dropped 60 percent domestically from its huge opening a week ago. The drop is consistent with the performances of other big film franchises such as “Twilight” and “Harry Potter,” said David Spitz, executive vice president of domestic distribution for Lions Gate Entertainment <LGF.N>. 

“That shows the staying power of the film. Word of mouth is clearly taking hold,” Spitz said. 

The movie, starring Jennifer Lawrence as heroine Katniss Everdeen, opened last weekend with $152.5 million, the third-highest domestic debut and biggest for a non-sequel.  

The second-weekend domestic tally ranked seventh-highest among all movies, according to website Box Office Mojo. 

Some of the business came from fans coming back for more. Exit polls showed 13 percent of filmgoers this weekend were repeat customers.   
     
The “Hunger Games” craze easily beat two new films at domestic theaters.  

Action sequel “Wrath of the Titans” landed in second place, grossing $34.2 million in North America (United States and Canada). The movie beat “Hunger Games” overseas, where it grabbed $78 million from 60 countries and brought the global weekend total to $112.2 million. 

Warner Bros. and Legendary Pictures paid about $150 million to produce the movie. 

The film starring Sam Worthington, Liam Neeson and Ralph Fiennes is a 3D sequel to Olympian epic “Clash of the Titans,” which debuted with $61.2 million domestically in 2010 over Easter weekend, boosted by students home from school on the opening Friday. 

For the sequel, Warner Bros. opened the film a week earlier. The studio expects to benefit in the days ahead from school kids on vacation, said Dan Fellman, head of domestic distribution for Warner Bros. Filmgoers under 25 rated the movie an “A-minus” in polling by CinemaScore. 

Third place belonged to “Mirror Mirror,” a new family-oriented film starring Julia Roberts as the evil queen in a comedy-and-adventure twist on the classic Snow White fairy tale.   

 The film brought in $19.0 million domestically, short of distributor Relativity Media’s projection for a low $20-million opening. As with “Titans,” the studio hopes Easter vacations will help boost ticket sales for “Mirror Mirror” this coming week, said Kyle Davies, Relativity’s president of worldwide theatrical distribution. Girls under 18 gave the movie an “A” grade and boys awarded an “A-minus” in CinemaScore polling. 

Relativity produced “Mirror Mirror” for about $85 million.  

Rounding out the top five, adult comedy “21 Jump Street” hauled in $15.0 million domestically, and animated family film “Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax” grabbed $8.0 million. 

Also this weekend, documentary “Bully” about children and families bulled at school earned $115,000 at five theaters in New York and Los Angeles, or a per-screen average of $23,000. The Weinstein Co. movie was released without a rating after the studio objected to the “R” from a U.S. movie industry group for language, saying it would keep many kids from seeing the film. 

“Bully” will expand to about 100 theaters in roughly 50 markets on April 13, said Erik Lomis, president of distribution for The Weinstein Co.  

“Wrath of the Titans” was released by Time Warner Inc’s Warner Bros. Privately held Relativity Media distributed “Mirror Mirror” in the United States, and Alliance Films released the movie in Canada. The movie division of Sony Corp released “21 Jump Street,” and Comcast Corp’s Universal Pictures distributed “The Lorax.”

Photo Credit: Lions Gate/Murray Close

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