New Movies to Crave: Odds Favor Hunger Games Having Record-Breaking Opening

By Chris Kavan - 03/23/12 at 11:23 AM CT

If you don't know about the film opening this weekend then congratulations - I'm so glad you woke up from that 6-month coma or perhaps you have just been freed from being taken hostage by Somali pirates where you don't have access to... well, anything (although I'm sure even Somali pirates couldn't escape the massive hype).

1) The Hunger Games, based on Suzanne Collin's best-selling novels about a brutal future for the United States, is set to open to record-breaking numbers this weekend. Advance ticket sales have been off the charts (it currently sits in third place overall, behind Twilight: New Moon and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2) and the buzz is certainly deafening. Personally, this is the first film I have pre-ordered tickets for in over a year - I'm a huge fan of the books and am expecting good things to happen here. Early reviews have been mostly positive (currently at 86% Fresh on RT) and fan reaction has likewise been good. Ever since Jennifer Lawrence impressed me in Winter's Bone, I've been hoping something big would come around for her. X-Men: First Class was a good first step, but I think she's really going to shine here. Likewise Josh Hutcherson and Liam Hemsworth look to be solid choices for their roles and a knock-out supporting cast: Stanley Tucci, Donald Sutherland, Woody Harrelson, Elizabeth Banks and Lenny Kravitz (amongst others) mean there's a great mix of up-and-coming talent and the gravitas of seasoned veterans to appeal to both the ravenous tween audience and the more discerning adults who will see the film. A $100 million opening is pretty much guaranteed, and it certainly has a good chance of breaking the March record of $116 million set by Alice in Wonderland. The only question remaining is just how good this movie will open.

2) Not surprising there are not other wide releases going up against The Hunger Games Juggernaut this week. In limited release you have the apocalyptic character study 4:44 Last Day on Earth with Willem Dafoe and Shanyn Leigh. But despite the world ending - this is no action film but rather an intimate look at how two people spend their final day together. If you want action, however, there is also the Indonesian film The Raid: Redemption ( Serbuan maut ) about a SWAT member left behind who literally has to take down an entire apartment complex filled to the brim with unsavory characters. For some reason I'm picturing the hammer scene in Oldboy, just played out for an entire film (and probably featuring more guns and fighting).

I know what I'm seeing this weekend (tonight, actually) - and I will have the full report on Sunday with just how much money The Hunger Games rakes in. One thing is for certain, blockbusters aren't just for summer anymore.

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