The Hunger Games sequel: Buzz, demand, and reviews all point to gigantic opening

|By:, SA News Editor

The box office numbers for this weekend's highly-anticipated release of The Hunger Games: Catching Fire could come in even higher than early estimates as more audience-tracking surveys show frenzied pre-release demand for tickets.

Execs with Lions Gate (LGF +0.5%) have stayed low with their guidance, and most Hollywood-watchers came in with a $160M-$175M forecast for the film, but a little extrapolation now shows that a +$180M opening weekend haul could be in store.

Buzz: At Fandago the movie reps 85% of all daily ticket sales and blew out the site's computers on a "buzz" indicator, while movie reviews have also been extremely favorable. "It blows the previous film — and most movies this year — out of the water," says Wired.

Shares of Lions Gate have been slightly shy in front of the big release, skirting around a narrow $32-$33 range. A box office blowout of over $200M could bring the stock back into the spotlight.

Reviews: NY Times, Washington Post, Wired.