LOS ANGELES — “The Hunger Games” is poised to slaughter the box office competition with an opening that could surpass $100 million.
On Thursday, Lionsgate’s adaptation of the best-selling book came onto “tracking,” the survey data used by Hollywood executives to measure pre-release interest, and the numbers are massive. People who have seen the numbers but were not authorized to discuss them publicly said the film, which debuts March 23, could have a domestic opening weekend of close to, and possibly more than, $100 million.
More consumers rate “The Hunger Games” as their first choice film to see than any movie coming out in the next four weeks. Typically, the movies that get the highest “first choice” ratings are ones closest to their release dates.
Currently, the three biggest companies that provide tracking data are estimating that “Hunger Games” will open to between $70 million and $90 million.
However, Lionsgate still has to roll out most of its marketing for “Hunger Games,” which stars Jennifer Lawrence. If ads on TV, print and the Internet along with billboards and publicity help to increase interest in the film, it could end up opening to more than $100 million, several people who saw the data said.
While “Hunger Games” is being compared to “Twilight” by many people, because both are based on book series that are tremendously popular with teenagers, Lionsgate’s upcoming film has one key advantage: While the four “Twilight” films have generated their nearly $1.1 billion in domestic box office primarily from women, surveys show that men are interested in “The Hunger Games” as well.
Females, particularly those younger than 25, are the most excited for “Hunger Games,” but more men over and under 25 also rate the film as their top choice than any other film opening in the next four weeks.
Already, “The Hunger Games” has broken the record for most first-day sales from online ticketing service Fandango.