The Blockbuster Movie Season Has Started Early

The movie business has been hungry for a box-office smash for a while now, and it appears that The Hunger Games fit the bill this past weekend. The movie, based on a novel by Suzanne Collins, roared into theaters and raked in $152.5 million in domestic box-office receipts and a total of $211.8 million worldwide.

The film, made by Lions Gate Entertainment (NYS: LGF) , has gotten rave reviews and had impressive staying power over the weekend. A $19.7 million midnight opening, including $1.3 million at IMAX (NYS: IMAX) theaters, was far from the most surprising number. On Saturday, the movie grossed $51 million and Sunday $35 million.

Signs of things to come?
After a lackluster year at the box office, the movie industry is hoping that this is just the beginning of a turnaround. And studios haven't even brought out the big guns yet. What The Hunger Games shows is that a good film can still command a big-time audience, and this year has some strong potential.

Disney (NYS: DIS) has big hope for The Avengers after John Carter flopped at the box office. Sony (NYS: SNE) is rolling out Men in Black for the third time, introduces a new lead in The Amazing Spider-Man, and releases the 23rd James Bond movie, Skyfall. And Warner Brothers, a unit of Time Warner, has the highly anticipated Batman flick The Dark Knight Rises among its releases.

I thought the movie business was set up for a strong year before The Hunger Games. If the industry can turn out a few more surprise blockbusters along with solid performances from sequels, we may get back to record-breaking results in 2012. The studios would love it if and IMAX and RealD (NYS: RLD) were winners in the process. They both get high-margin incremental revenue from the box office in their theaters, so a strong blockbuster season would be great for both.

Grab your popcorn and soda, movie investors. The Hunger Games should just be the start of a profitable year.

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At the time thisarticle was published Fool contributorTravis Hoiumowns shares of IMAX and Disney. You can follow Travis on Twitter at@FlushDrawFool, check out hispersonal stock holdingsor follow his CAPS picks atTMFFlushDraw.Motley Fool newsletter serviceshave recommended buying shares of IMAX and Walt Disney. The Motley Fool has adisclosure policy. We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe thatconsidering a diverse range of insightsmakes us better investors. Try any of our Foolish newsletter servicesfree for 30 days.

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