The Hunger Games was already predestined to be a box office success thanks to its existing and rather rabid fanbase, but it wasn't until early reviews started trickling out that people started predicting it would be a legitimate box office smash. Sure enough, buzz kept building and building, and so here we are on opening day and the Gary Ross-directed film is already carving notches onto its box office bed post.
The first round of stats came from Fandango, which revealed yesterday that at its peak, the online ticketing service was selling an impressive 12 tickets per second and that over 2,500 opening weekend shows around the country had already been sold out. And while those numbers still put it behind the historical highs of New Moon and Deathly Hallows: Part 2, this little flick about teens killing teens on a dystopian reality TV show did trump Twilight entries Breaking Dawn, Part 1 and Eclipse to become the third highest advanced ticket seller of all-time.
So what do all those presales equate to? According to Deadline, The Hunger Games earned Lionsgate a cool $19.75 million from its midnight screenings alone, edging out even The Dark Knight to make it the seventh highest midnight opening ever. And that's just the beginning. The other major records broken come with a qualifier, but they're still impressive: THG is now the highest non-summer, non-holiday 2D IMAX opening ever (earning fourth place behind the 3D big boys that make more because of the higher ticket price), and is also Lionsgate's widest release ever at over 4,100 screens and rising. We're sure more records will be broken once the weekend is over, but the reason we're sharing them now is because, honestly, we're just happy for the studio.
Lionsgate has long been a small fish in a big studio pond, and has never really proven capable of competing with larger studio franchises. Breakout hits like the Saw franchise give the illusion of box office prowess, but the reality is the studio's highest grossing film of all time is still the Michael Moore documentary Fahrenheit 9/11 at $119 million. Considering The Hunger Games is expected to earn more than that from this opening weekend alone, we're now particularly curious to see what kind of movies the studio, which recently merged with Summit, does next.