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THE HUNGER GAMES Box Office: Behind Mel Gibson/THE PASSION

Liam Hemsworth The Hunger Games Jennifer Lawrence
Jennifer Lawrence, Liam Hemsworth, The Hunger Games

After grossing $1 million in North America on Monday, April 23, The HungeHr Games has surpassed Steven Spielberg's Jurassic Park to become the 18th biggest blockbuster ever at the U.S. and Canada box office.

On Box Office Mojo's all-time box office chart, The Hunger Games (cume: $358.07 million) currently finds itself sandwiched between Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ ($370.78 million) and Jurassic Park ($357.067 million), after having just surpassed Michael Bay / Shia LaBeouf's Transformers: Dark of the Moon ($352 million). By next Sunday, it should be no. 17, ahead of The Passion and slightly behind Sam Raimi / Tobey Maguire's Spider-Man 2.

The Gary Ross-directed dystopian adventure drama will likely end its run somewhere between Daniel Radcliffe / Ralph Fiennes' Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 ($381.01 million at no. 13) and Michael Bay's Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen ($402.11 million at no. 12).

Once again: in the case of The Hunger Games, its box office ranking would be accurate only if there were no such pesky little things as inflation and IMAX surcharges. In terms of ticket sales, The Hunger Games – and all of the aforementioned movies – are way down the list. How far down is impossible to tell for several reasons, among them:

  • To the best of my knowledge, historically no official data has been released regarding Hollywood movies' actual ticket sales.
  • Even inflation-adjusted charts don't factor in IMAX and 3D surcharges for each movie; those can be as high as 40 percent of the price of a movie ticket. In other words, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 and the The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 1 were both released in 2011, when the average ticket price was $7.83. Let's pretend they both grossed $300 million. Had that been the case, Breaking Dawn 1 would have sold more tickets than Deathly Hallows 2; the former is in (cheaper) 2D, whereas the latter earned a sizable chunk of its gross from (costlier) 3D showings.
  • Cheaper children's matinees aren't factored in.
  • A number of major releases (up to the late '60s or so) were "roadshowed," i.e., they opened at one or perhaps a handful of theaters at top prices – those aren't reflected (for each movie) in annual averages.

Despite those (serious) inadequacies, the inflation-adjusted domestic box office chart is an infinitely more reliable barometer of a film's popularity than the "official" chart quoted by pundits most everywhere. [Check out: Cecil B. DeMille / Hedy Lamarr / Victor Mature's SAMSON AND DELILAH ahead of THE HUNGER GAMES?]

On the adjusted chart, The Hunger Games is no. 110, having jumped 13 slots since Friday. It is now sandwiched between Spielberg / Tom Hanks' Saving Private Ryan ($358.19 million) and Mel Brooks / Gene Wilder's Young Frankenstein (357.41 million). A week from now, The Hunger Games will likely jump another eight slots, landing behind Tom Cruise's Top Gun.

Chiefly as a result of its domestic success, The Hunger Games is no. 73 on the all-time worldwide box office chart (not adjusted for inflation or currency fluctuations), ahead of the Ben Stiller comedy Night at the Museum and behind the Bradley Cooper / Zach Galifianakis comedy The Hangover Part II. The Hunger Games' worldwide total currently stands at $575.1 million.

On Monday, The Hunger Games was no. 3 at the domestic box office, behind Tim Story / Michael Ealy / Jerry Ferrara's Think Like a Man ($2.76 million) and Scott Hicks / Zac Efron / Taylor Schilling's The Lucky One ($1.44 million). Based on Suzanne Collins' novel, The Hunger Games features Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth, Woody Harrelson, Elizabeth Banks, Alexander Ludwig, Donald Sutherland, and Wes Bentley.

Jennifer Lawrence / Liam Hemsworth / The Hunger Games photo: Murray Close / Lionsgate.

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