First, this past weekend's box office numbers:
1. The Hunger Games: $21.5 million ($337m total)
2. *The Three Stooges: $17.1m
3. *The Cabin in the Woods: $14.8m
4. Titanic 3D (2012): $11.6m ($44m)
5. American Reunion: $10.7m ($39.9)
9. *Lockout: $6.2m
14. Woman Thou Art Loosed!: $650,000 (limited release)*+
15. Bully: $534,000 (limited release)*+
These are domestic numbers only. The Hunger Games has earned $531 million worldwide between March 23 and April 15th. Here's how the first installment matches up against other freshman franchise films (title, domestic sales, worldwide gross, budget not including marketing):
* Twilight (2008): $193 million, $392 million, $37 million.
* Batman Begins (2005): $205 million, $373 million, $150 million.
* Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl (2003): $305 million, $654 million, $140 million.
* The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001): $313 million, $871 million, $93 million.
* Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (2005): $317 million, $975 million, $125 million.
* The Hunger Games (2012): $337 million, $531 million, $78 million.
* Spider-Man (2002): $403 million, $822 million, $139 million.
And individual films not adjusted for inflation, all-time:
1. Avatar (2009): $750 million, $2 billion, $237 million.
2. Titanic (1997): $601 million, $2 billion, $200 million.
3. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows Part 2 (2011): $381 million, $1.3 billion, $250 million*
4. Transformers: Dark of the Moon (2011): $352 million, $1.1 billion, $195 million.
5. The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003): $377 million, $1.1 billion, $94 million.
6. Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest (2006): $423 million, $1 billion, $225 million.
7. Toy Story 3 (2010): $415 million, $1 billion, $200 million.
8. Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides (2011): $241 million, $1 billion, $250 million.
9. Star Wars: Episode I (1999): $431 million, $1 billion, $115 million.
10. Alice in Wonderland (2010): $334 million, $1 billion, $200 million.
85. The Hunger Games (2012): $337 million, $531 million, $78 million.
*Shared with Part 1.
The Hunger Games has only been in theaters for four weeks, making it a premature comparison to any of these films, yet still has a long time left to increase its haul and is already besting most of its franchise competitors. I think two things are pretty obvious from these numbers. Of all the recent franchise films that I could think of, this is the best debut of them all. Although it's worth noting that some debut franchise films tend not to do very well compared to their first sequel. New Moon's $709 million strongly improved on Twilight's $393 million. While some are gangbusters from the outset (they tend to based on equally huge book series), like Harry Potter 1's $974 million and Harry Potter 2's $878 million.
The biggest problem that Hunger has is its limited global appeal. The top 10 highest grossing films of all time made more money overseas than here in the United States, whereas Hunger has made only 36% of its gross in foreign receipts. That I think that guarantees it won't ever make the top 10 list. But so as far as accolades go, this film has set a new standard for first-entry franchise films, and may end up one of the highest grossing series of all time. I'm just not sure the limited material (only three books) can come close to the Potter franchise (7 books).