‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens,’ Final ‘Hunger Games’ Most Anticipated Fall Releases Ever (Survey)

Most Anticipated Movies of Oscar Season
Courtesy of Disney

Moviegoers can’t wait to see Katniss Everdeen lead the people of Panem to freedom or witness the Millennium Falcon roar across the screen after three decades in dry-dock, according to a recent survey by Piedmont Media Research.

The consumer tracking company polled 3,000 people about upcoming fall movies and found that “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2” and “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” were the most hotly anticipated upcoming releases. In fact, both films scored some of the highest ratings Piedmont has recorded since it began polling audiences five years ago. The company rates consumer engagement on a scale of zero to 1,000, and the fourth and final “Hunger Games” had a 514 rating, beating last summer’s “Avengers: Age of Ultron” and its score of 509, as the best overall number it has ever recorded.

The “Star Wars” sequel posted a 495 rating, the third best figure since Piedmont began its surveys. It also had the best score among males that Piedmont has seen with 553. Females also are looking forward to the film, with their interest level hitting 383.

While “The Force Awakens” may seem to be more of a winter release — a previous Fandango survey excluded the film from its fall report — it hits theaters on Dec. 18, with winter technically starting on Dec. 21.

“Those are huge numbers,” said Joshua Lynn, president of Piedmont Media Research. “Every demographic is showing up for this.”

Other films that resonated strongly with audiences were “Hotel Transylvania 2” with 313 and “The Martian,” the Matt Damon and Ridley Scott sci-fi adventure, with 255. “Spectre,” James Bond’s latest martini-swilling outing, had a 282 rating, which represents an improvement over the 007 series’ last installment, “Skyfall,” with 231. Lynn said big-budget films need to score in the 250 range if they want to be successful.

On the lower end, fantasy epic “Pan” suffered a 205, biopic “Steve Jobs” logged a 162, Bradley Cooper kitchen dramedy “Burnt” clocked in at 144, horror comedy “Scouts Guide To The Zombie Apocalypse” had a 142, and “Jem And The Holograms,” an adaptation of the 1980s animated show, eked out a 127. Of course, most of these pictures are mid to low-budget offerings, with the exception of the $155 million budgeted “Pan,” so they aren’t as dependent on scoring massive openings in order to be successful.

The people surveyed were selected to be demographically representative of the movie-going public in terms of age, gender, ticket-buying behavior and ethnicity. Piedmont also tries to quantify the impact that a film’s cast has on audiences. It polls people to find out if their interest rises or falls when a particular concept is matched to an actor and filmmaking team.

Much has been written and many hands wrung over the diminution of star power, but Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie still seem to earn their paychecks. “By the Sea,” the off-screen couple’s dissection of a failing marriage, got a 43% bump in interest when Pitt and Jolie’s names were attached to the concept. “Daddy’s Home,” an upcoming comedy with Will Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg, enjoyed a 51.8% increase and “Rock the Kasbah,” a military comedy with Bill Murray and Bruce Willis, received a 39.7% surge in popularity when the cast was revealed.

Quentin Tarantino is the major attraction when it comes to “The Hateful Eight.” The revisionist western saw its rating jump 26.4% when the “Pulp Fiction” director’s involvement was emphasized. And “The Night Before,” a Christmas comedy with Seth Rogen and Joseph Gordon-Levitt, increased 36.5%, while “Bridge of Spies,” a historical drama from Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks, climbed 28.3% when their talent was matched with a particular concept.

Not every film was so lucky. “MacBeth,” an adaptation of Shakespeare’s “Scottish Play” with Marion Cottilard and Michael Fassbender, saw it score plunge 23.5% when its stars were listed alongside the film. Likewise, “Victor Frankenstein,” a horror film with James McAvoy and Daniel Radcliffe stepping into Mary Shelley territory, dropped 14.2% when the actors were matched with the material. Nor was “MacBeth,” the only time Fassbender fell flat with fans. Interest in “Steve Jobs”dipped 7.9% when the Oscar-nominee’s casting as the Apple founder was mentioned alongside the film’s plot description.

Some films are cast proof. Enthusiasm for the new “Star Wars,” for example, neither rose nor fell when its cast of veterans like Harrison Ford and newcomers such as Daisy Ridley was matched to the latest story from a galaxy far, far away.

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  1. Hollywood should stop trying to make Fassbender happen as the leading man. he’s a character actor, no star charisma. Nothing wrong with that but they lose money trying to figure out what general audience already knows. Also, he looks nothing likeSteve Jobs and many people cna’t get over it. Lincoln became a blockbuster because DDL had such striking resemblance, they didn’t even have to put a title by his picture. Eveyrone knew it was Abe.

  2. Ok, I'm Impressed says:

    Wow, they were already totally on the mark with Hotel Transylvania 2! Looking like an opening weekend of almost $50 million, WAY above expectations… I wonder if anyone else saw this doing nearly as well as these guys did??

  3. Uncle Jessie says:

    Can’t for Mockingjay Part 2 after that ending in Part 1? Psh you know I’ll be there at the midnight showing. It’s sad to see these movies ending for good though.

    • Kantmiss says:

      Couldn’t agree more…but with this uber-successful a franchise, there’s a good chance of future installments of some kind (sequel and/or prequel.)
      Heck, there was even talk of a theme park. :0

  4. Kantmiss says:

    As a massive THG fan, I think…that that is absolutely, phenomenally excellent! I can’t recall the last time I was THIS psyched and hyped over a new movie. And it really shouldn’t be surprising, given the quality and the epicness of the franchise…to eclipse huge, always-popular titles like Star Wars or any superhero is really, REALLY something, though. This isn’t an average teen series that eventually wears out its welcome and grows tiresome; it truly is on a whole other level that’s rarely achieved. Big round of applause for the entire fandom, and for everybody who played a part in getting the books printed and the films created. The only other upcoming releases I intend to see in the theater are Goosebumps and Peanuts…but Mockingjay Part 2’s premiere is the single most-anticipated day of the year for me. 8”’-D

  5. todd says:

    What are the scores based on?

  6. Shiva says:

    Definitely the most and the Keenly awaited film of the year, considering the finale of the franchise. It’s gonna be great! Can’t wait!

  7. Silvana says:

    Macbeth is the kind of film would be interesting the Oscar race because it’s an amazing picture very well directed and magnificent performed by Fassbender and Cotillard. A real Oscar worthy film.

  8. KJ says:

    Yeah, I’m sorry, I don’t buy for a single second that Hunger Games is more anticipated than Star Wars. The movie will have to work to reach $1 billion worldwide, and Star Wars has potential in it to breach $2 billion. I can personally guarantee that Star Wars will outgross Hunger Games both domestically and internationally. Star Wars is part of our cultural lexicon. Hunger Games is a passing YA fad that got popular three years ago. It has the potential of breaking Jurassic World’s opening weekend record in December, a month in which no movie has even topped $90 million.

  9. Tommy says:

    Macbeth is a magnificent film, very well directed, visual stunning and with wonderful performances. Fassbender is great as the king Macbeth while Marion Cotillard is even better as Lady Macbeth, superb acting. It’s a total Oscar-worthy and artistic achievement too. Every people should watch it. And I’m sure people to be interested in saw it.

  10. Maximus says:

    Really interesting stuff, I love that analytics are becoming a more important part of the conversation here! Especially the actors testing, fascinating data. This is the kind of thing studios should be using all the time for movies, I’m guessing we’d see less of the lame movies no one is even interested. Like Jem and the Holograms…

  11. joellaz@!sbcglobal.net says:

    “Technically”, look at a calendar and tell me how the dates you mention signify the beginning and end of the seasons.

  12. Jack says:

    The first HG was fine, Catching Fire was great, Mockingjay Part 1 was good (action-adventure doesn’t drive the story; it’s more of a war drama – not for everyone, especially those expecting another Catching Fire). The finale should be pretty epic.

    And Macbeth is a great film, and a visually stunning one. Fassbender and Cotillard are excellent. Everyone should really go watch it. If people checked it out, I’m sure word of mouth would be really good and it would be a box office success. This is the first time I’d say that of a Shakespeare adaptation. If people enjoyed films like 300 they’ll enjoy Macbeth.

    And I know this survey doesn’t measure potential indie success, but I hope people also go so see great independent films like Carol (with Cate Blanchett, Rooney Mara, Kyle Chandler, and Sarah Paulson), which run at the same time as many of these blockbusters. Carol is an absolute gem.

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