'The Hunger Games' fills local theaters

ssloan@herald-leader.comMarch 23, 2012 

Excitement over the film adaptation of The Hunger Games, which stars two Kentuckians, led area movie theaters to open more and more screens Thursday night for midnight showings. And employees are expecting busy weekends during a month that doesn't always see them.

Regal Cinemas at Hamburg is devoting nine of its 16 screens to the film this weekend, said associate manager Jared Walton.

"I've never seen nine screens of one movie," he said. "The most I've seen before was seven screens, and that was The Dark Knight.

"The tracking numbers for this one say it will more than likely beat the three-day opening record for March ... there's insane awareness."

Regal sold out three screens at midnight Thursday and nearly filled a fourth, he said, totaling about 900 people.

"It was not like Twilight big, but it was still pretty good," Walton said.

And especially for March, when Hollywood is not serving up its blockbuster-style fare.

Movie Tavern, the Richmond Road cinema where you can dine and drink restaurant-quality food, sold out all eight theaters at midnight, totaling about 800 seats, said manager Stephanie Robinson.

The movie is on four screens there this weekend, which will see the theater also show the University of Kentucky men's basketball games in the NCAA Tournament.

"Between both of those, we're predicted to be pretty much busy all day," she said.

The AmStar cinema at Brannon Crossing planned promotions for its midnight showings, including bringing Joseph-Beth Booksellers employees on site for book giveaways.

The theater attracted 950 people to its midnight showings, said senior manager Justin Larcomb.

Employees of Cinemark's movie theaters in Lexington referred questions to an out-of-state corporate spokesman, who did not return calls.

The Hunger Games is based on Suzanne Collins' blockbuster trilogy of novels about a brutal future government that forces teenagers into an annual televised death match.

The film adaptation stars Kentucky natives Jennifer Lawrence as resourceful heroine Katniss Everdeen and Josh Hutcherson as fellow competitor Peeta Mellark.

Regal's Walton said the Kentucky connection likely helped boost attendance, but he noted it's also a movie with broad appeal.

"It's one of those movies that appeals to the guys and girls as opposed to Twilight, which is mostly female," he said.

Scott Sloan: (859) 231-1447. Twitter: @HeraldLeaderBiz

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