While the first few weeks of March bring potential hits like The Lorax, John Carter and 21 Jump Street, the most anticipated movie of the month doesn't reach theaters until March 23.
The Hunger Games is easily the most-anticipated book-to-movie adaptation since Twilight, and it's possible that it has even more box office potential than the extraordinarily popular teen vampire series. Similar to Twilight, The Hunger Games is based on the first in a series of young adult novels that features a female protagonist entangled in a love triangle. While the romance is the main focus of the Twilight series, though, in The Hunger Games it's merely a component of a broader story that centers around teens fighting to the death in the post-apocalyptic equivalent of Survivor. As a result, the movie should have much more cross-over appeal with men than Twilight, though at the same time there's the risk that some prospective female audience members will be turned off by the violence.
Previews have almost entirely ignored the more violent aspects, though, and have instead focused on the pre-arena drama in order to clearly outline the high stakes. This strategy seems to be working, as The Hunger Games topped The Twilight Saga: Eclipse to set a new first-day sales record on Fandango. According to a spokesperson there, the movie is "still doing brisk ticket sales" and has been the top seller nearly every day since tickets went on sale last Wednesday.
The Twilight Saga: Eclipse opened on a Wednesday and earned $157.6 million through its first five days in theaters; coming anywhere close to that mark is very unlikely given that The Hunger Games is the first in its series. However, it does appear like The Hunger Games will open above the first Twilight ($69.6 million in three days), and should have one of the best launches ever in March.
March 30 - 'Wrath of the Titans' Vs. 'Mirror Mirror'
While The Hunger Games will likely continue to draw large audiences in its second outing, the final weekend of March does include a likely $100 million sequel as well as a Julia Roberts-led question mark.
Wrath of the Titans arrives in theaters almost exactly two years after Clash of the Titans, which opened to $61.2 million on its way to a total of $163.2 million. It was an even bigger hit overseas where it earned $330 million, so a sequel seemed like a no-brainer. Unfortunately, the original came out at a time when 3D and star Sam Worthington were both hot commodities, as Avatar had just become the highest-grossing movie ever and Alice in Wonderland was on its way to becoming a $1 billion movie.
Unfortunately, Clash of the Titans seemed to change the conversation surrounding 3D (it was apparently an atrocious conversion) and Worthington, and the movie received a terrible 5.8 rating on IMDb. The sequel looks like more of the same, just without the Kraken, which will probably result in significantly lower grosses domestically. Still, it should be able to make up for any drop-off with strong overseas numbers, so there's definitely a chance that there's a third Titans movie in the near future.
In the battle of 2012's Snow White movies, Mirror Mirror is getting the jump on Snow White and the Huntsman by just over two months. The movies couldn't be more different, though, as Huntsman appears to be an epic fantasy adventure in the Lord of the Rings mold while Mirror Mirror looks like a whimsical, light-hearted tale aimed squarely at children. Because the movie is being targeted towards young girls and their parents, it probably doesn't matter too much that Mirror Mirror's trailer was brutalized within the online community for its cheap look and anachronistic jokes. A bigger problem could be that the Julia Roberts-Armie Hammer flick is opening in the shadow of The Hunger Games, which is beginning to look like the sort of all-consuming behemoth that crushes anything even tangentially related.
March Limited Releases
Aside from the heaping of major movies hitting theaters in March, there are also a handful of limited releases that have the potential to deliver solid business in limited releases.
Being Flynn (March 2): Based on the book Another Bullshit Night in Suck City, Being Flynn stars Robert DeNiro and Paul Dano and is being released by Focus Features. The few reviews that are currently available aren't kind, though, so despite the star power this is one movie that could burn out quickly.
Friends with Kids (March 9): Featuring what seems like half of the cast of Bridesmaids (Kristen Wiig, Jon Hamm, Maya Rudolph, Chris O'Dowd), Friends with Kids is the latest movie from Kissing Jessica Stein's writer-star Jennifer Westfeldt. So far there have been fairly positive reactions to the movie, and Roadside Attractions will likely give this a serious push due to the popularity of the cast (which also includes Adam Scott, Megan Fox, and Edward Burns).
Salmon Fishing in the Yemen (March 9): Starring Ewan McGregor and Emily Blunt, and with the backing of mid-major distributor CBS Films, it's surprising that there isn't more buzz surrounding Salmon Fishing in the Yemen. Perhaps that's because the plot, which finds McGregor's character consulting on how to bring the sport of fly-fishing to the Yemen, doesn't look all that exciting on paper. If the movie does receive strong word-of-mouth upon release, though, it could be in for a nice little run.
Casa De Mi Padre (March 16): For one of the more bizarre passion projects around, Will Ferrell stars in the Spanish-language Casa De Mi Padre, which Lionsgate has scheduled for "moderate release" beginning on March 16. It definitely looks like an amusing movie, though the language barrier may be too much to overcome for the Funny or Die production even with the presence of Ferrell in the lead (Ferrell didn't do much for Everything Must Go, which wound up with just $2.7 million last year).
Jeff Who Lives at Home (March 16): The Duplass Brothers' last movie Cyrus made $7.5 million in 2010, and Jeff Who Lives at Home has at least as much star power (Jason Segal and Ed Helms vs. Jonah Hill and John C. Reilly). However, Cyrus was released by Fox Searchlight, which has a proven track record of churning out indie hits, while Jeff Who Lives at Home comes from Paramount Vantage, which has practically closed up shop in recent years.
The Raid: Redemption (March 23): I had a chance to see this Indonesian production a few months ago, and it really feels like the kind of foreign language movie that can be broadly appealing stateside. It's light on dialogue (so not a ton of reading necessary), the plot is fairly universal (cops get trapped in a crime-infested building and need to battle their way out), and it's packed with some truly jaw-dropping action sequences. The latest trailer rightly point out that the movie is from the same studio that released Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon ($128.1 million) and Kung Fu Hustle ($17.1 million); if Sony Pictures Classics gives it the right marketing push, there's no reason why The Raid can't at least crack $10 million.