With the widest release in March history, “The Hunger Games” reaches theaters this weekend with a huge prospective audience that should help turn it into a major hit. As “The Hunger Games” scoops up a huge sector of mainstream audiences this weekend, “21 Jump Street” is still in good position to appeal to adults and “The Lorax” will likely continue its success with families this weekend. It won’t get much easier for “John Carter,” however, as its already depleting target demographic could jump ship for “The Hunger Games.”
Launching at an eye-popping 4,137 total theaters, Lionsgate isn’t being shy about pushing “The Hunger Games” into the vision of moviegoers everywhere. “The Hunger Games” also has a tremendous built-in audience due to the popularity of the book series it’s based on, which should combine with positive critical buzz so far to make for a very big opening. With midnight screenings likely to be sold out, the only question right now is just how big its opening totals will be.
While March was formerly a difficult month to launch a potential blockbuster, the last six years have seen a slew of major hits that have put up mid-summer opening numbers. “Alice in Wonderland” still holds the record at $116 million domestically during its opening weekend in 2010, though it’s a record that Lionsgate would love to smash this weekend with “The Hunger Games.”
The only real downside for “The Hunger Games” is its PG-13 rating. Though it has a big enough fan base to potentially make this mostly a non-factor, “The Hunger Games” doesn’t have the advantage of a family-friendly PG rating, which “Alice in Wonderland” had when it hit theaters in 2010. Still, “The Hunger Games” is launching at roughly 400 theaters more than “Alice,” potentially giving it enough of a boost to surpass the March record.