There was no stopping the runaway momentum of The Hunger Games this weekend.

‘The Hunger Games’ Devours Sky-High Expectations

on March 26, 2012 by Daniel Garris

It was simply a historic launch this weekend for Lionsgate and The Hunger Games as the highly anticipated film shattered already massive expectations with a debut of $152.54 million. That represented the third largest unadjusted opening weekend of all-time (behind only 2011's Deathly Hallows: Part 2 and 2008's The Dark Knight), the largest ever debut for a non-sequel and the largest ever debut for a March release. The Hunger Games opened 31 percent stronger than the $116.10 million launch of previous March record holder, 2010's Alice in Wonderland (which had the additional benefit of higher priced 3D admissions). When adjusted for ticket price inflation, The Hunger Games claimed the sixth largest opening weekend of all-time. The launch was even sweeter for The Hunger Games when factoring in its relatively modest overall cost for an event film of its size.

The Hunger Games skewed towards female moviegoers (61 percent) and moviegoers 25 and over (56 percent). The demographic breakdown for The Hunger Games landed in between the demographic breakdowns for the Harry Potter and Twilight franchise, but ended up significantly closer to the four-quadrant Harry Potter audience breakdown than it did to the Twilight audience breakdown.

While it still did well internationally, The Hunger Games wasn't nearly as strong internationally as it was domestically this weekend. The film grossed a very solid $59.3 million from 67 international markets this weekend (placing the film's worldwide launch at $211.8 million), but its domestic start being so much stronger clearly doesn't fit the recent trend of event films performing stronger internationally than domestically. There certainly seems to be something a bit more North American about the appeal of The Hunger Games, at least up to this point. The film's top international performances were $9.7 million in Australia and $7.5 million in the United Kingdom. Other highlights included $6.5 million in Russia, $3.9 million in Germany, $3.8 million in France and $3.6 million in Mexico.

Back on the domestic front, The Hunger Games registered an opening weekend to Friday ratio of 2.27 to 1, which represented an impressive mark for a film that had a midnight launch of nearly $20 million on Friday. That early holding power, combined with apparently strong early word of mouth (the film received an A rating on CinemaScore) and its non-sequel status, are all very positive signs for the film's holding power going forward.

While getting a bit lost in the Hunger Games headlines, Sony's 21 Jump Street held up reasonably well in second weekend of release with a distant second place take of $20.47 million. The R-rated action comedy starring Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum fell 44 percent from last weekend's stronger than expected debut. The ten-day start for 21 Jump Street stands at a very healthy $70.22 million.

Dr. Seuss' The Lorax was down 42 percent to claim third with $13.18 million. Universal's 3D computer animated blockbuster has grossed $177.41 million in 24 days. That leaves the film just $22.59 million away from reaching the $200 million domestic milestone.

With this weekend's combined domestic box office totaling $214.3 million, The Hunger Games was responsible for 71 percent of all grosses this weekend.

Tags: Dr. Seuss' The Lorax, 21 Jump Street, The Hunger Games

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