This weekend, The Hunger Games beat out the new release competition for a third straight week, marking the film's fourth number one spot at the box office. With a $21.5 million take this weekend, Hunger Games has grossed a 24 day total of over $337 million, placing the film in the top 25 all-time performers at the North American box office.
That's a lot of dough, but back up a bit and you'll find an even more impressive tidbit: the magical fourth consecutive number one spot. A meager number at first glance (geez, it's not even five!), but sift through the last few decades of box office winners and you'll find that even the best of the best couldn't keep their stranglehold going for an entire month.
Every movie wants to be "The #1 Movie in America." That first weekend is coveted — anything afterward is simply gravy. Out of the ten movies that wracked up the most consecutive number one weekends in cinematic history, only one debuted in the new millennium: Avatar— and James Cameron's sci-fi epic ranks at the lowest position on that list. Even '90s hits are scarce, with Titanic (#1, 15 weeks, 1997) and Home Alone (#4, 12 weeks, 1990) the lone representers among a spatter of '80s hits (Good Morning Vietnam places sixth with a stunning nine weeks at number one).
After this weekend, Hunger Games joins the upper echelon of post-2000 films to stand firmly atop of the box office mountain for four consecutive weeks, a previous achievement obtained by Meet the Parents (2000), How the Grinch Stole Christmas (2000), The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003) and The Dark Knight (2008). Sorry Twilight and Harry Potter fans, not even those franchises could use their supernatural powers to win over audiences weekend after weekend after weekend.
Since 2007's 300 proved that non-summer months — specifically, March — could work as a prime release window for franchise films, the Spring has been coveted real estate for big studio projects. At this point, every weekend is crowded, movies get lost in the shuffle, and few break out for a weekend or two. Hunger Games hits phenomenon status, not because of its huge box office gross, but because of its obvious legs. Wish Zac Efron's The Lucky Ones the best of luck — he'll need it as Hunger Games eyes up yet another weekend at number one. If the movie pulls off that win, Hunger Games will sit alongside Avatar on the record board, one of two movies to nab five or more consecutive weekends in the new millennium.
At this rate, Hunger Games may still be in theaters by the time its sequel, Catching Fire, debuts! OK, a bit of a stretch…maybe.