The Hunger Games Nails Box Office Crown with $21.5 Million Weekend

The Hunger Games Nails Box Office Crown with $21.5 Million WeekendLionsgate’s The Hunger Games has dealt another hand of deja vu, becoming the first film since James Cameron’s Avatar to top the box office for four consecutive weekends. It handily topped newcomers The Three Stooges from the Farrelly brothers, Joss Whedon’s horror film The Cabin in the Woods, and Lockout, all of which arrived to middling numbers. The box office has begun to slow down slightly from the white-hot streak it has enjoyed since the calendar flipped over to 2012.

With a $21.5 million estimated gross from 3,916 theaters (off only 35%), The Hunger Games starring Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson and Liam Hemsworth upped its domestic total to a staggering $337.7 million. It crossed the half-billion mark in global sales this weekend and could be looking at a final total of $600 million when all is said and done. The film currently sits at number 22 on the all-time domestic earnings list between 2007’s Spider-Man 3 and 2003’s Pixar effort, Finding Nemo.

They’ve been out of the spotlight for a while now, but that didn’t stop America’s favorite knuckleheads from making a respectable comeback in the new 20th Century Fox family-friendly comedy The Three Stooges starring Chris Diamantopoulos, Sean Hayes and Will Sasso. It earned $17.1 million from 3,477 theaters despite mostly negative reviews (43% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes), but audiences seemed a little more receptive by bestowing the Stooges with a “B-” CinemaScore.

In addition to owning the top spot with The Hunger Games, Lionsgate also occupied the number three spot at the box office this weekend with its horror film pickup The Cabin in the Woods. Shot in 2009, the Drew Goddard-directed production (co-written by Joss Whedon) got caught up in the recent MGM bankruptcy and found itself sitting on the shelf until Lionsgate came to its rescue and picked the film up for distribution.

The long road to theaters finally ended this past Friday when the film opened on 2,811 screens to earn a mild $14.9 million. While the film proved to be a hit with critics (a surprisingly strong 92% approval on Rotten Tomatoes), audiences gave the film a middling “C” CinemaScore rating. Despite the latter, business did increase by a small margin on Saturday. This small bump in business could be an indication of positive word-of-mouth from ticket buyers.

The third wide opener for the weekend, Open Road’s Sci-Fi action flick Lockout, crashed and burned in ninth place. Opening on 2,308 screens, the Guy Pearce-starrer could only muster a weak $6.2 million in its first three days of release. The film got slammed by critics (33% approval on RT) and received mixed CinemaScore feedback (B-) from those who ventured out to see it on opening weekend. The $20 million film was co-written and executive produced by Luc Besson (The Fifth Element, Nikita).

Paramount’s 3D reissue of its 1997 blockbuster Titanic showed strong staying power in its second week of release to land in fourth place. Off a mere 32.7% from its opening weekend take of $17 million, the film earned a solid $11.6 million on 2,697 screens to bring its ten-day total to $44.4 million. The James Cameron production could finish its domestic run near the $65 million mark, which would bring its all-time domestic haul near $670 million. Overseas, the reissue has earned a solid $53 million so far, including a record-setting debut in China.

Rounding out the top five for the weekend was Universal’s R-rated sequel American Reunion, which fell by 51% in its second round to earn an estimated $10.7 million from 3,203 theaters. After ten days, it has earned a mild $40 million so far. Not bad for a film series that has been in direct-to-video hell for the better part of the last ten years.

The remainder of the top ten is as follows:

6. Mirror Mirror (Relativity) $7 million (-37% from last weekend) $49.6 million to date

7. Wrath of the Titans (Warner Brothers) $6.9 million (-53%) $71.3 million

8. 21 Jump Street (Sony Pictures) $6.8 million (-32%) $120.5 million

10. Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax (Universal Pictures) $3 million (-40%) $204.4 million

Disney Nature’s feature Chimpanzee joins Think Like a Man and The Lucky One in trying to decouple The Hunger Games from its first place box office perch next weekend.

– Shawn Fitzgerald

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