Will ‘The Hunger Games’ Be The First Female-Led Film Series To Break Into The Franchise Top 10?

As The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part One continues to show strong performance at the U.S box office, in relation to other titles currently on release, number crunchers are eager to see what happens to the film’s international takings when it finally opens in China in February 2015. Variety reports that the Christmas Day take for the third film in The Hunger Games franchise was $2.69 million from 2,793 theaters – which brings its overall domestic earnings to $296.7 million after five weeks on release. With such a large foreign market still ahead for its latest installment, The Hunger Games remains on course to further its status as one of the highest-grossing female-led film franchises of all time.

The subject of female-led film projects has featured more prominently in the news recently, since both Warner Bros and Disney announced plans for female-led superhero movies as part of their DC and Marvel production slates, respectively. With the commissioning of film projects being driven largely by financial considerations, audiences have been increasingly vocal about the need for more lead roles for women – especially given the clear evidence of the profitability of such endeavors. The Hunger Games film franchise has been a significant part of that discussion, ever since the first movie earned over $691 million against a budget of $78 million in 2012.

The current performance of The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part One places the franchise as a whole in 17th place on the list of highest-grossing film franchises of all time. In terms of female-led film franchises, this level of box office success places it second only to The Twilight Saga – 11th highest grossing franchise of all time. In financial terms, as documented at Box Office Mojo, The Hunger Games has so far earned $2.2 billion with three movies – a figure that is set to rise further after the Chinese debut of Mockingjay, and the release of the final installment in November 2015. By comparison, The Twilight Saga earned $3.3 billion with five films.

The financial progress of The Hunger Games – as a successful film franchise with one movie still to release – is notable due to the issue of profitability having long been an argument against female-led films. The more film projects that challenge this attitude, the greater Hollywood studios capacity for change should be. The trend was given greater momentum with the release of the Forbes annual list of the highest-grossing actors of 2014. While it was unsurprising that the majority of the top 10 were male — given the relative scarcity of high-profile female roles in cinema — it was a striking fact that two of the top three highest-grossing actors of 2014 were female – with The Hunger Games lead Jennifer Lawrence taking the top spot, thanks to her participation in X Men: Days of Future Past and The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part One.

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part Two, is released on November 20, 2015, and its box office success as the final installment in the Hunger Games franchise is relatively guaranteed. With the current worldwide box office total for the series standing at $2.2 billion, the degree of profitability of the remaining film will determine whether The Hunger Games will become the first female-led series to rank in the top 10 highest-grossing film franchises of all time – the number 10 spot of which is currently held by Shrek, with $3.5 billion.