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Weekend Box Office Report: ‘The Hunger Games’ Devours the Competition

The Hunger Games
Lionsgate

1. The Hunger Games: $155,000,000 ($155,000,000)

2. 21 Jump Street: $21,300,000 ($71,051,000)

3. Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax: $13,100,000 ($177,300,000)

4. John Carter: $5,014,000 ($62,347,000)

5. Act of Valor: $2,062,000 ($65,942,000)

6. Project X: $1,950,000 ($51,752,000)

7. A Thousand Words: $1,925,000 ($14,926,000)

8. October Baby: $1,718,000 ($1,718,000)

9. Safe House: $1,400,000 ($122,600,000)

10. Journey 2: The Mysterious Island: $1,373,000 ($97,155,000)

There’s a big box office opening and then there’s a Big box office opening. Gary Ross’ adaptation of Suzanne ‘The Hunger Games‘ opened big. That $155,000,000 weekend is the third biggest opening of all time, right under ‘The Dark Knight’ ($158,000,000) and ‘Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part II’ ($169,000,000). Lionsgate was never shy about attempting to position Suzanne Collins’ sci-fi young adult series as the next ‘Harry Potter‘ or ‘Twilight‘ and, well, it looks like they’ve succeeded with flying colors.

What do these numbers mean, exactly? First of all, it means that director Gary Ross, a tasteful, discerning filmmaker if there ever was one, can pretty much make whatever he wants to make next (assuming that Lionsgate doesn’t immediately dump a duffel bag full of cash at his feet to fast track the next film in the series). It also means that star Jennifer Lawrence will be saying no to a whole bunch of scripts since every single project with a female lead will be showing up on her agent’s desk this week. For Josh Hutcherson, it means a chance to escape from the inevitable ‘Journey 3′ by waving around his newfound Peeta power.

This opening ensures that Lionsgate will want to get the second book in the series, ‘Catching Fire,’ in front of cameras as soon as possible. If the suits are smart, they’ll bask in the glow of their newfound fortune and let the same team take their sweet time making the sequel the proper way. Of course, that previous sentence contains an incredibly vital “if.” As the film blitzes toward a minimum $300 million gross (which is an inevitability unless something goes horribly wrong), we’ll surely hear more. Heck, expect to hear about ‘Catching Fire’ being greenlit sometime in the next few days.

While ‘21 Jump Street‘ may not have the box office power of a film about kids slaughtering other kids for the amusement of the upper class in a dystopic science fiction society, it held on incredibly strong for its second week, taking in $21,300,000. That’s $71,050,000 for a movie that really didn’t cost too much at and will absolutely clean up when it hits DVD. It’ll definitely break $100 million and before peaking around $120, which will certainly be enough to get a sequel in the works if everyone involved wants to return (and let’s face it, they probably do).

Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax‘ continued its steady climb to $200 million with an additional $13,100,000, only a minor drop-off from last week. Whatever the cause (the scarcity of films that appeal to young children in current wide release, the fact that people may actually like it, etc.), the animated environmental fable has found a committed audience. What are the odds that we’ll get ‘Yertle the Turtle’ in theaters for spring of 2014?

The most depressing thing about ‘John Carter‘s $62,347,000 gross?  ’Act of Valor,’ which was made for the cost of ‘John Carter’s catering, has made $65,942,000. ‘Project X‘ isn’t too far behind with $51,752,000. It’s a sad ending for a film that was genuinely liked by those who actually went out and saw it rather than make fun of it from the internet. On Friday, most of the theaters still showing ‘John Carter’ will ship it off to make room for ‘Wrath of the Titans.’ If you’ve been putting off seeing it, these next few days may very well be your last chance to see it on the big screen. Plan accordingly.

The box office domination of ‘The Hunger Games’ (and its lack of direct competition) have allowed ‘A Thousand Words,’ ‘Safe House‘ and ‘Journey 2: The Mysterious Island’ to hold onto spots in the top ten, but their runs are essentially over. The real battle next week will be to see how ‘Wrath of the Titans’ fares against the juggernaut of ‘The Hunger Games’ and whether or not ‘Mirror Mirror‘ can overcome toxic buzz to crack the top ten. Of course, all of this is just prelude to the summer, which looks to offer one of the most varied blockbuster line-ups in years.

In other words, the box office is going to get very crazy, very soon.

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