Though general audiences may not dwell on movie release dates and scheduling, studios fight to schedule specific dates to insure the success of their films. An example is Lionsgate’s The Hunger Games movies.
The Hunger Games was released on March 23, 2012. The studio did not expect it become a “tent pole” (a film that earns enough to allow the studio to make films that are more likely to win awards, but may not be as profitable) movie and was given a 78 million budget, a small amount for an action movie to be released in March. With a smaller budget and a March release date, The Hunger Games was not expected to do well. However, its international gross was $407,999,255. Because of its success, Lionsgate made the decision to increase the budget for the next film and move the release date to November to draw in an even larger audience.
Catching Fire was released on November 22, 2013 with a budget of $130 million. With its gross of $424,668,047 worldwide, Lionsgate decided to split the last book into two parts, much like Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows and Twilight’s Breaking Dawn. This strategy allows the studio to benefit from the huge fan base as well. Mockingjay Part I was released on November 21, 2014 with a budget of $125 million and grossed $335,694,000 as of January 23, 2015.
Again, Mockingjay Part I secured the November release date to have a larger audience and because it is expected to do well. Following the same pattern, Mockingjay Part II is scheduled to release on November 20, 2015 with a budget of $125 million.
In conclusion, The Hunger Games was not expected to be a “tent pole” film. This shows how studios will change up their release schedules to attract a larger audience and make a better profit.