The battle of the movies based on popular young adult novels is officially on the books. Fandango is reporting that advanced ticket sales for the upcoming adaptation of The Hunger Games has broken the record for first-day advanced ticket sales previously set by The Twilight Saga: Eclipse.
Said Fandango Executive Vice President and General Manager, Rick Butler:
"'The Hunger Games' is off to a fantastic start. Yesterday we saw the biggest first day advance ticketing sales in our company's nearly 12-year history – which is especially impressive for a March release and a non-sequel."
In reality, there is little competition between Hunger Games and Twilight. Aside from the fact that both films (and books) tend to draw a lot of the same crowd, and will both be profitable in their own right, with the recent merger of Summit Entertainment (which is owns Twilight), and Lionsgate (which is releasing The Hunger Games), both properties are now essentially earning for the same team.
The more interesting aspect of all this is how The Hunger Games is doing at the box office. It's still questionable whether the film is going to be the same success story for Lionsgate that Twilight was for Summit - a hope that Lionsgate definitely had when it picked up Suzanne Collins' best-selling trilogy of novels for big screen adaptation.
So far, things would seem to look good - though the majority of these advance tickets are no doubt being purchased by fans of the books. Having an already established fan base always guarantees a certain amount of movie ticket sales - but will the larger moviegoing public show the same enthusiasm?
The latest Hunger Games TV Spots have arguably been the best advertisers of the film so far, but all of the marketing materials to date (even trailers and images) have avoided showing off much of the action and big set pieces - a risky decision for a film whose story revolves around an epic battle to the death between two-dozen teenagers.
Even the romantic aspect of the story - involving protagonist Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence), her best friend Gale (Liam Hemsworth) and fellow combatant Peeta Mellark (Josh Hutcherson) - has been downplayed in favor of the more dramatic aspects of the story (Katniss' quest to save her sister), but marketing the film as a Twilight-esque sci-fi tale would have its own advantages.
Given director Gary Ross' short but impressive filmography (Seabiscuit, Pleasantville) there is little reason to doubt that he has made a quality film. But whether the public at large knows that, remains to be seen. Judging by today's announcement, things look good.
The Hunger Games will be in theaters on March 23, 2012