By Brent Lang
LOS ANGELES (TheWrap.com) - Katniss Everdeen looks ready to torch the fall box office, according to a new survey of the season's most anticipated movies by online ticketer Fandango.
"The Hunger Games: Catching Fire" bested all comers. The follow-up to the 2012 smash was the film that 28 percent of moviegoers polled by the company said they were most eager to see.
Coming in at number two was another sequel, "Thor: The Dark World," which was the top choice of 21 percent of respondents.
"Gravity," Alfonso Cuaron's science fiction thriller, was the third highest rated choice with 15 percent of the vote. The new film from the Mexican director of "Children of Men" earned rave reviews when it debuted at the Venice Film Festival last month.
It may not be based on a hit book series or comic book, but it does boast the combined talents of Sandra Bullock and George Clooney to entice ticket buyers.
"The three movies that dominated the survey — ‘Catching Fire,' ‘Thor' and ‘Gravity' — just as easily could have been released over the summer," Dave Karger, chief correspondent for Fandango, said. "They are big, special-effects-driven movies that would not have been out of place at all."
Noticeably missing from the list of heavily anticipated flicks were many top awards contenders. The fall traditionally brings more serious-minded fare geared towards adult audiences and this season is no exception. But while movies like Martin Scorsese's "The Wolf of Wall Street" or Paul Greengrass' "Captain Phillips" may be at the front of movie critics' lists of films to see, they failed to make the cut among film fans.
In the case of "The Departed" director's latest collaboration with Leonardo DiCaprio, that may have something to do with the fact that the movie remains an unknown quantity despite its top-shelf talent.
"Films like ‘Carrie' and ‘Ender's Game' are genre-driven films, when it comes to ‘The Wolf of Wall Street,' it's not really clear what it is," Karger said. "Is it a drama? Is it a comedy? Is it an Academy film or a commercial film? It's not clear what audiences should expect."
The unscientific study was conducted last week on Fandango's website and across its mobile platforms. Fandango used December as its cut-off point when it came to assessing the fall's crop of films, so that meant that many holiday releases like "The Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug" and "Monuments Men" were not eligible.
The company declined to say exactly how many people responded to its questions, but reports that it was in the thousands.
The survey also asked respondents about the performances they were most excited to see. Among male stars, it was something of a family affair. Chris Hemsworth's return as the god of thunder in "Thor: The Dark World" was the choice of 17 percent of those surveyed while little brother Liam Hemsworth's supporting role in "Catching Fire" was the fifth most anticipated performance with 8 percent of the vote.
It's a critical season for the elder Hemsworth, who will also star in Ron Howard's racing drama "Rush," which is generating Oscar buzz in advance of its debut this month.
"It's a huge fall for Chris Hemsworth," Karger said. "If ‘Rush' does well it may finally be the movie where people end up knowing his name as opposed to just thinking about him as the guy who plays Thor."
Among women, Jennifer Lawrence owned the survey, picking up 39 percent of the vote for her role in "Catching Fire." Bullock took the second slot for donning a space suit in "Gravity," but was far behind with 21 percent of the vote.
Top 5 Most Anticipated Fall Movies: 1.The Hunger Games: Catching Fire (11/22), winning with 28% of vote 2. Thor: The Dark World (11/8), 21% 3. Gravity (10/4), 15% 4. Ender's Game (11/1), 4% 5. Carrie (10/18), 4%
Most Anticipated Male Performance: 1. Chris Hemsworth: Thor: The Dark World, winning with 17% of vote 2. Leonardo Di Caprio: The Wolf of Wall Street, 13% 3. George Clooney: Gravity, 13% 4. Josh Hutcherson: Catching Fire, 12% 5. Liam Hemsworth: Catching Fire, 8%
Most Anticipated Female Performance: 1. Jennifer Lawrence: Catching Fire, winning with 39% of vote 2. Sandra Bullock: Gravity, 21% 3. Natalie Portman: Thor: The Dark World, 8% 4. Meryl Streep: August: Osage County, 7% 5. Jennifer Hudson: Black Nativity, 4%