We’ve been predicting big things for the film adaptation of Suzanne Collins’ The Hunger Games all along, but I don’t think anyone expected anything this big. The Hunger Games debuted in theaters this weekend and smashed the box office competition to become not just the biggest hit of 2012 so far, but the third biggest movie of all time.
With its $155 million opening weekend here in the United States, Hunger Games sits behind only Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Pt 2 ($169 million) and The Dark Knight ($158 million) on the list of top opening weekends. That also makes it the biggest non-sequel opening for any movie, ever, in the history of cinema.
If you’re a fan of science fiction, this is a big deal. The thing about The Hunger Games is that it isn’t just sci-fi, it’s real sci-fi. It’s not another one of those lazy Hollywood movies that just throws aliens in because it needs a bad guy, or a superhero adaptation that is sort of science fiction but really a comic book fantasy, or a spy movie which happens to have a lot of sci-fi gadgets but isn’t really sci-fi itself, or a movie based on a bunch of toy with a sci-fi angle that the film mostly ignores. Nope. The Hunger Games, while written simply and designed primarily for a teen audience, is real honest to god science fiction.
It’s the first legitimately sci-fi film to top the box office since the underperforming Real Steel back in October of last year. On the all time box office opening weekend list you’d have to look down at number 16 to Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith before you’d find another one. Best of all this legitimately sci-fi movie hasn’t just done well at the box office, it destroyed it. Science fiction is alive and well in Hollywood and if we’re lucky, this film’s success coupled with the almost certain success of Prometheus later this year, could prompt a new wave of sci-fi filmmaking in Hollywood.