For the fourth weekend in a row, The Hunger Games easily led the domestic box office, holding off three new wide releases from the top spot.
Lionsgate’s $90 million blockbuster adaptation earned $21.5 million over the Friday-to-Sunday period, marking a slim 32 percent drop from last weekend. All told, The Hunger Games has earned $337.1 million after 24 days and seems headed for a final domestic total of about $375 million. The only other 2012 releases likely to reach those sorts of numbers are franchise films The Avengers, The Dark Knight Rises, and The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey.
Internationally, The Hunger Games isn’t yet the franchise-launching blockbuster that it is Stateside, but it is performing quite well week-to-week. The film is nearing the $200 million mark overseas, and as of Sunday, its worldwide total stands at $531 million. That figure should only climb with each subsequent sequel.
The Farrelly brothers’ latest comedy, The Three Stooges, debuted in second place with an unexpectedly strong gross of $17.1 million. While that figure isn’t gargantuan, the slapstick romp fared better with ticket buyers and critics than anyone expected, since ads for The Three Stooges, which highlighted the goofball physical comedy of the original 1930s film series, had many people thinking the film was a dud.
Fox spent a reported $30 million on the comedy, which stars Sean Hayes, Will Sasso, and Chris Diamantopoulos, and marketed it to comedy-craving men and young boys eager for a family option other than Mirror Mirror. This strategy proved effective: according to CinemaScore, the film played to audiences that were 59 percent male. Stooges earned a lackluster “B-” CinemaScore grade, though — crowds under 25 gave the film an “A-” and crowds 25 and up gave it a “C” — which could hurt its box office longevity. Still, this should prove to be a minor winner for Fox.
After three years on the shelf following MGM’s demise, Joss Whedon’s horror/comedy The Cabin in the Woods finally got its release, and over its debut weekend, the film scared up $14.9 million — a respectable result. Lionsgate faced a difficult challenge in marketing Cabin without giving away the film’s plot, which is most effective when kept under wraps.
Encouragingly, the film, which Lionsgate acquired for slightly less than $20 million, ticked up from $5.5 million on Friday to $5.7 million on Saturday — a rare increase for frontloaded horror films and fanboy flicks (Cabin is both of these things). This may have been the effect of strong word-of-mouth and stellar critical reviews overall (the film stands at 93 percent “Fresh” on Rotten Tomatoes), although audiences polled by CinemaScore didn’t prove overly enthusiastic. They gave the film a harsh “C” grade. Increasingly, CinemaScore grades don’t seem to line up with critical opinions — this recently happened with Drive, which critics loved, but audiences issued a “C-” grade. Only time will tell whether word-of-mouth proves a boon or an anchor for Cabin, but it has a shot at becoming a mid-level sleeper hit.
In fourth place, Titanic 3D sank by only 33 percent to $11.6 million in its second weekend. After ten days, the 3-D re-release has pulled in $44.4 million, passing the re-release total of Star Wars: Episode I — The Phantom Menace, which earned $43.3 million total despite a strong $22.5 million start. Titanic should sail right past Beauty and the Beast 3D‘s $47.5 million gross over the next few days, and finish around $65 million. While that’s lower than The Lion King‘s $94.2 million re-release total, and a bit less than many were expecting, Paramount spent just $18 million to convert the picture, so the the re-release will prove profitable — especially as a launching pad for the Titanic Blu-ray, set to hit stores soon.
American Reunion rounded out the Top 5 with $10.7 million, a 50 percent decline from last weekend. Universal’s sequel has grossed $39.9 million against a $50 million budget, but given steep drops like this one, Reunion will end up the lowest-grossing title in the American Pie franchise.
Down in ninth place, Guy Pearce/Maggie Grace thriller Lockout started its run with a weak $6.3 million out of 2,308 theaters. The action film earned a “B-” CinemaScore grade.
In limited release, Weinstein’s buzzy documentary Bully, which finally got a PG-13 rating after cutting a few F-words, earned a moderate (given the amount of press it has received) $534,000 from 158 theaters. The film has earned $814,000 after three weekends. Meanwhile, Blue Like Jazz, the Kickstarter-funded adaptation of Donald Miller’s religious memoir, grossed an okay $281,000 from 136 locations. Because Jazz was funded by fans, the Roadside Attractions-distributed feature has minimal negative costs.
Among milestones, Journey 2: The Mysterious Island crossed $100 million domestically this weekend. The film, which stars The Rock, has earned over $315 million worldwide. Denzel Washington thriller Safe House passed $125 million. And 21 Jump Street reached $120 million, and is now set to pass The Vow as Channing Tatum’s highest earner in 2012.
Check back next week to see how The Lucky One and Think Like A Man fare, and follow me on Twitter for up-to-the-minute box office news!
1. The Hunger Games – $21.5 million
2. The Three Stooges – $17.1 million
3. The Cabin in the Woods – $14.9 million
4. Titanic 3D – $11.6 million
5. American Reunion – $10.7 million
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