The Hunger Games' Epic Opening Weekend: Where Does It Rank vs. Harry Potter and Twilight?

Sorry, Teams Edward and Jacob, the boy wizard can claim more bragging rights when pitted against Hunger's staggering $155 million box-office debut

By Joal Ryan Mar 26, 2012 11:02 AMTags
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Where once the staggering box-office returns belonged to Harry Potter and Twilight, this weekend they belonged to The Hunger Games.

Here's how the three book-to-movie blockbusters stack up against either other:

The Hunger Games vs. Twilight
It's almost not fair to compare The Hunger Games to the first Twilight, and, numbers-wise, it's not close. 

The Hunger Games' $155 million Friday-Sunday debut more than doubled Twilight's start.

The rout was so complete The Hunger Games very nearly equaled Twilight's $69.6 million opening weekend with its opening day.

Even when Twilight's 2008 ticket prices are adjusted upward (using 2011's average ticket price of $7.93), The Hunger Games rules, and handily so ($155 million vs. a theoretical $76.9 million).

With the original Twilight essentially a low-budget, surprise hit, the better comparisons involve the vampire saga's sequels.

In that game, Twilight wins some (Breaking Dawn—Part 1, Eclipse and New Moon all debuted bigger at midnight and on their respective opening days), but The Hunger Games still wins the big one (opening-weekend bragging rights).

The Hunger Games vs. Harry Potter
This one's too close to call. 

On one hand, The Hunger Games undeniably made more money in its franchise debut than did Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, even when the 2001 film's stats are tweaked for inflation, a calculation that brings its opening-weekend total to a theoretical $126 million.

On the other hand, Sorcerer's Stone arguably made the bigger splash by setting what was then the record for a three-day debut: $90.3 million. For its part, The Hunger Games "merely" established itself as Hollywood's third-biggest-ever opener.

On the third hand, The Hunger Games opened bigger than all of the Harry Potter sequels, save one. 

On the fourth hand, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2, the one sequel The Hunger Games didn't beat, reigns still as Hollywood's weekend king.

On the fifth hand, Deathly Hallows: Part 2's total was boosted by 3-D ticket prices; The Hunger Games got by on 2-D. (Both played in IMAX.)

On the sixth hand… Er, never mind. This argument has gotten out of hand.

The Bottom Line: The Hunger Games' out-of-the-box overseas success, which pushed the movie's three-day, worldwide total past $200 million, puts the franchise on more of a Harry Potter track, but try to tell that to any Twilight fan who bought a Hunger Games ticket to see the new Breaking Dawn—Part 2 trailer.