For a film that had barely entered our consciousness at the start of this year, it’s impressive the extent to which “The Hunger Games” has come to dominate the news cycle in recent weeks. While we were aware that the trilogy of books by Suzanne Collins were popular, we weren’t quite sure of the extent of that popularity until the casting rumors started to fly, and the books’ fervent fan base came out in force. What’s more, unlike the miserable “Twilight” series, we’ve been ensured by Playlist team members that the books are, actually, a cracking read, and should make good source material for big-screen adventures.
Lionsgate‘s adaptation of the popular young adult series, written by Billy Ray and directed by “Seabiscuit” helmer Gary Ross, is gearing up for production, with “Winter’s Bone” star Jennifer Lawrence looking likely to have landed the lead role, and it’s clear that it’s not just us that’s taken notice of the blockbuster potential of the film; one rival tentpole, a far more expensive proposition than “Hunger Games,” has run scurrying from the release date they had shared with its tail between its legs.
“Clash of the Titans 2” — which seems to be the title for the moment, although “Wrath of the Titans” is still floating around in the ether — tried to muscle in on the March 23rd, 2012 date long claimed by “Hunger Games,” a few weeks ago. Both films are chasing roughly the same market (although we suspect that there would be something of a gender divide), and Warner Bros. were presumably confident that their tentpole, which just started filming under the helm of director Jonathan Liebesman, would be too intimidating a proposition for the lower-budget Lionsgate film to face off against.
Instead the inverse has happened: Warners, perhaps with a knock to their self-confidence after Liebesman’s “Battle: Los Angeles” turned out to be such utter rubbish, have called chicken, and made the decision to delay ‘Clash 2’ by one week, to March 30th, 2012, where it’ll now open against the less demographically competitive pair of Sony‘s 3D animation “The Pirates! Band Of Misfits” and the Seth Rogen/Barbara Streisand comedy “My Mother’s Curse.” It’s presumably partly influenced by DreamWorks pushing their big Easter animation “The Croods,” which was once to have opened on the same day, by eleven months, to March 1st, 2013. However, considering that the original ‘Clash’ made a fairly impressive $160 million at the box office, it’s also a fairly powerful demonstration that the upstart “Hunger Games” is looking set to be a major box office force in the next few years.
It’s also worth mentioning that March is pretty much the new July: in addition to the four films mentioned above, March 2012 will also see the opening of “Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax,” “Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters,” Disney’s megabudget “John Carter of Mars” and Sony’s “21 Jump Street,” all of which could once have been summer tentpoles. Soon, Screen Gems will run out of space to open shitty PG-13 horror movies! [Box Office Mojo]