March’s Strong Females – By the Numbers

Several times in recent months, when talking changing the status quo and planning for the blog, I predicted March would be a big month. I already knew Fate of the Jedi: Apocalypse had given the female characters some opportunities to really shine and I anticipated that the theatrical release of The Hunger Games would prove to be a game changer. There’s actually a lot to digest from this past weekend, so how about just the numbers for now…

Fate of the Jedi: Apocalypse

After its series predecessor Fate of the Jedi: Ascension hit its highest New York Times bestseller marks at #27 on the Print & Ebook Combined list and #7 on the Hardcover list back in August 2011, Apocalypse had a lot to prove. On the April 1, 2012, lists the series finale will land at #8 on Print & Ebook Combined list and #2 on the Hardcover list. Congratulations to the Star Wars Books team and Troy Denning!

The Hunger Games (movie)

Fans of Suzanne Collins’ books have known this is a special story, but special stories don’t always make good movies. By midday Saturday, though, it was already safe to say the movie had exceeded all expectations. As noted by The Hollywood Reporter, among others:

  • estimated $155 million domestic gross [officially revised to $152.5 million on Monday]
  • nearly $60 million more overseas
  • the all-time best opening weekend outside the summer season
  • the all-time best opening weekend for a non-sequel film
  • the third best debut weekend ever for any film, behind only The Dark Knight and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2
  • under-25 audience CinemaScore of A+
  • 25-and-older CinemaScore score of A-
  • about 60% female audience, compared to about 80% for Twilight
  • over 50% audience over the age of 25

Undoubtedly the record-breaking success of The Hunger Games will, as Bloomberg News wrote this morning, send “Hollywood Searching for Heroines.” The article concisely notes some of the specific reasons the movie and the books have captivated audiences, but ultimately money does speak louder than words.

Lions Gate Entertainment Corp. (LGF)’s $155 million opening-weekend haul for “The Hunger Games” proved female action heroes can attract big audiences, and may inspire Hollywood to make more films with female leads.

I have this mental image of a corporate suit running down the halls shouting, “Get me a female hero now!”

“The Hunger Games,” which set a record as the biggest opening ever for a non-sequel, illustrates how Hollywood under-appreciates audiences’ acceptance of female action heroes, according to Phil Contrino, editor of researcher Boxoffice.com.

“People were hungry for something like this,” Contrino said in an interview. “Now everyone will be looking for the next ‘Hunger Games’ instead of every male-driven, Will Smith action film,” he said, referring to the star of “Independence Day” and “Men in Black.”

If I had the ear of a corporate suit, just for a second, I would point out the most important reason The Hunger Games was a success – it’s a character-driven story with an epic vision that has a lot of action in its plot. Hollywood can try to recreate all those elements by the numbers, but it’s the magic of Suzanne Collin’s characters and the world she envisioned around them that sets The Hunger Games apart from the ordinary.

Update: From TheHollywoodReporter.com, The Hunger Games breaks yet another record.

Lionsgate’s film adaptation of Suzanne Collins’ best-selling young-adult novel grossed $10.8 million on Monday — the best showing ever for a Monday outside of holidays, the Christmas stretch and summer.

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