There’s no question that Lionsgate’s Hunger Games franchise is a massive box office success, taking over where the Harry Potter and Twilight films left off. Thankfully Hunger Games has more in common with the former series than the latter, and that’s at least partially due to the charisma, acting talents, and all-around awesomeness of series star Jennifer Lawrence. In fact, the latest Hunger Games installment, Catching Fire, ended the year strong, surpassing Iron Man 3 as the biggest box office earner of 2013 here in the States (Tony Stark still wins internationally, with a ridiculous $1.2 billion worldwide). But there’s one other accomplishment that is just as impressive, if a bit sad. Journalist Mark Harris recently pointed out that Catching Fire is the first film with a solo female lead to top the annual box office since either The Exorcist or Funny Girl, depending on how picky you want to be. Those films, for the record, came out in 1973 and 1968, respectively.
Either way, that’s pretty depressing, if not entirely surprising. As Buzzfeed points out, there have been top earners that featured prominent female characters, such as the Harry Potter films’ Emma Watson or Avatar’s Zoe Saldana, but those were, at best, co-leads, and you’d have to really reach to suggest that either was the primary focus of those stories. Hunger Games has a large cast of characters, but it is clearly and indisputably Katniss Everdeen’s story.