The Hunger Games’ $155 million opening-weekend haul last week proved that female action heroes can attract big audiences, and may inspire Hollywood to make more films with female leads. The movie, made for about $80 million, generated the third-biggest worldwide opening weekend ever, researcher Box Office Mojo reported. That puts it ahead of flicks such as Spider Man 3, both Iron Man outings and every other film but The Dark Knight and the last Harry Potter film.
The Hunger Games, which set a record as the biggest opening ever for a non-sequel, illustrates how Hollywood under-appreciates audiences’ acceptance of female action heroes, according to Phil Contrino, editor of Boxoffice.com.
“People were hungry for something like this,” Contrino said, adding, “Now everyone will be looking for the next Hunger Games instead of every male-driven, Will Smith action film.” Contrino predicts The Hunger Games may go on to capture over $400 million in the US alone.
The movie, which stars Jennifer Lawrence as an arrow-slinging killing machine, was on the top spot in almost all of its 67 markets (including India), according to its makers.
The film is based on the 2008 young-adult novel of the same name. Over the first weekend, theatre goers were 61% female and 56% over the age of 25. That compares with an audience for The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 1, that was 80% female and 60% older than 21. Hollywood has also found that female stars can also deliver comedy.
Bridesmaids, the raunchy romp starring Kristen Wiig and Maya Rudolph, was a surprise hit. For female action heroes, the hits have been sporadic since Sigourney Weaver lit up the screen in the first Alien in 1979. Actor Angelina Jolie’s Salt took in $118 million in 2010. The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, generated $102.5 million in 2011. Now, Pixar will put out its first animated feature with a female hero in June, titled Brave. “There’s always been a lack of strong female leads,” said Contrino, adding, “Hollywood is waking up to that.”