The Hunger Games was going to be huge, but two months ago it was hard to say it was going to be this big, and it would have been impossible to predict when Relativity slotted Mirror Mirror, or when Warner Brothers plunked down Wrath of the Titans on the schedule. Surely both were hoping to the be the number one film of their weekend, but even with a Games 66% tumble, they’re going to have to do over $50 Million if they want any shot at number one. And that’s just not going to happen.

It’s hard to remember that Clash of the Titans did $163 Million stateside. It came in the wake of both Avatar and Alice in Wonderland - both blockbusters – and Clash was hastily converted into 3-D for its theatrical release, partly because WB was convinced they had a stinker. That it did nearly half a billion worldwide is something of a shock, but explains why there’s a sequel two years later. Word is better on this one – though that may be splitting hairs. The first film has a 28% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes, this has (currently) 38%. Wrath is a big dumb action movie, the question is if audiences are into this, or were into the original enough to get this open. I remember many audiences were actively annoyed with the last film, so they’ve probably turned off a good chunk of people.

Credit where credit is due, Warner Brothers has sold this film well. Unlike Mirror Mirror, where the good word that’s percolated out over the last couple days seems in contrast to a marketing plan that took its notes from mid-90′s live action Disney films. That they’re tracking at all is a shock, but they’re currently looking at a near-20 Million launch. Bully for them.

Still, the big question of the weekend is how much will The Hunger Games fall off. It will be going into the weekend with $190-plus million for its first week of release, which means it will cross the $200 Million dollar mark Friday and should be over the $250 hump by the end of the weekend. It’s losing all of its Imax screens to Titans (which is shocking, it must have been a last minute decision to put it on the Imax screens – perhaps when John Carter started looking super-weak), so it’s losing increased ticket prices, though no locations. If it drops less than 50%, the film will make over $400 domestic. But right now I’d say that it will fall over 50%, which would mean the final tally is going to be somewhere in the $350 Million range. Impressive.

What that also means is that Lionsgate has been spending the last couple days getting their ducks in a row for the follow up. Though surely most everyone was contracted for the sequels (or at least the lead actors), even some of those deals are being re-engineered. When a film opens to over $150 Million, people are going to want more money. It’s also possible that Gary Ross only signed on for one. We could see a Twilight/Potter situation where new directors come in for each film. We’ll surely hear more about that in the next two or three weeks. They’re going to want the next one for Winter of 2013 and no later than summer of 2014.

So let’s get numbering:

  1. The Hunger Games – $74 Million
  2. Wrath of the Titans – $38.5 Million
  3. Mirror Mirror – $18.9 Million
  4. 21 Jump Street – $12.5 Million
  5. The Lorax – $6.6 Million

It’s possible that The Hunger Games will tumble harder, but I feel like there were a number of people who either didn’t care or avoided the opening weekend that will come this weekend out of curiosity. If Mirror Mirror has been sold well to their core demo (young girls and parents), it’s possible it could get a bump, though The Hunger Games has a lot of overlap with that audience. Perhaps younger girls might be drawn in, but even they might prefer Games. Wrath will probably be much bigger internationally. It could also close in on a half billion worldwide, and still barely cross the $100 Million dollar mark domestically. Such is the business.

What are you seeing this weekend?