Box office: 'Hunger Games' sinks 'Titanic 3-D,' 'American Reunion'
For the third consecutive weekend, no rival was able to defeat "The Hunger Games" at the box office.
The Suzanne Collins' adaptation has thrice claimed the No. 1 spot since its March 23 debut, grossing an additional $33.5 million this weekend, according to an estimate from distributor Lionsgate. The movie is now a bona fide domestic blockbuster, having collected $302.8 million total in the U.S. and Canada alone.
Meanwhile, audiences weren't as nostalgic for the 1990s as Hollywood had hoped. "American Reunion," the fourth installment in the raunchy teen comedy franchise, opened with a so-so $21.5 million. A 3-D version of James Cameron's historical romance "Titanic" was less popular, grossing a decent $17.4 million over the weekend. The film first hit theaters Wednesday, so its five-day total is now $25.7 million.
Released in 1999, "American Pie" became a box office hit with its buzzworthy scene featuring a teenage boy having sex with a pastry. The first film and two subsequent sequels all grossed well over $200 million each worldwide.
It then appeared the franchise was dead theatrically, as Universal Pictures proceeded to release four straight-to-DVD spinoffs not featuring cast members like Jason Biggs and Seann William Scott. But encouraged by home video sales, the studio green-lighted "Reunion," which reunites the original gang as they head home for a high school get-together. Universal co-financed the picture with Relativity Media for about $50 million.
Those who saw "American Reunion" this weekend liked it, assigning it an average grade of B+, according to market research firm CinemaScore. Roughly 61% of the weekend audience was over the age of 25, suggesting that the film appealed mostly to a crowd familiar with "Pie" instead of a new generation of moviegoers.
Nine years ago, "American Wedding" opened with $33 million. But if the fourth movie ends up lagging behind its previous entries domestically, it may make up some ground internationally. Overseas, "Reunion" opened in 28 foreign countries and collected $19.3 million. According to Universal, that's 105% ahead of how much "Wedding" made in the same locations in 2003. The new movie performed especially well this weekend in Russia and Australia, selling about $5 million worth of tickets in each country.
Of a handful of recent 3-D re-releases, the revamped "Titanic" had the lowest three-day opening. A 3-D version of "Beauty and the Beast" started off with a slightly higher $17.8 million in April, while an update of "Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace" debuted with $22.5 million in February; both films have now collected about $45 million at the box office. To date, the most successful 3-D re-issue has been "The Lion King," which raked in $94.2 million by the end of its run.
Of these, it seemed "Titanic 3-D" had perhaps the best chance for box office success, considering the 1997 original is the second highest-grossing of all time and filmmaker Cameron is one of the leaders in the 3-D technology field. Paramount Pictures and 20th Century Fox shared the inexpensive $18 million cost to convert the story starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet to 3-D.
The movie -- which received an A CinemaScore -- was also released abroad in 84 foreign countries this weekend, grossing $35.5 million in all. Fox, which is releasing the film internationally, is hopeful that the movie will be a hit abroad, because theaters were sparse in many countries when the original debuted 15 years ago.
[Updated, 12:22 p.m. April 8: "Wrath of the Titans" may be losing steam domestically, but the film is doing strong business abroad. The sequel was the No. 1 film internationally this weekend, raking in an additional $43 million from 60 countries and bringing its total to $152.5 million after 10 days in release. In 2010, "Clash of the Titans" grossed an impressive $330 million overseas -- a number "Wrath" is on pace to match. The new film has opened in most markets, but will debut in Japan later this month.
Here are the Top 10 movies at the domestic office, with international results when available, according to studio estimates:
2. "American Reunion" (Universal/Relativity): Opened with $21.5 million. $19.3 million overseas in 28 foreign markets.
3. "Titanic 3-D" (Paramount/Fox): Opened over the weekend with $17.4 million. Domestic total since Wednesday: $25.7 million. $35.5 million overseas in 84 foreign markets.
4. "Wrath of the Titans" (Warner Bros./Legendary): $15 million on its second weekend, down 55%. Domestic total: $58.9 million. $43 million overseas in 60 foreign markets. International total: $152.5 million.
5. "Mirror Mirror" (Relativity): $11 million on its second weekend, down 39%. Domestic total: $36.5 million.
6. "21 Jump Street" (Sony/MGM): $10.2 million on its fourth weekend, down 31%. Domestic total: $109.6 million. $2.9 million overseas in 17 foreign markets. International total: $27.6 million
7. "Dr. Seuss' The Lorax" (Universal): $5 million on its sixth weekend, down 36%. Domestic total: $198.2 million. $11.8 million overseas in 49 foreign markets. International total: $59 million.
8. "Salmon Fishing in the Yemen" (CBS Films): $975,000 on its fifth weekend, down 23%. Domestic total: $4.6 million.
9. "John Carter" (Disney): $820,000 on its fifth weekend, down 60%. Domestic total: $68 million. $2.6 million overseas in 54 foreign markets. International total: $195.6 million.
10. "Safe House" (Universal/Relativity): $580,810 on its ninth weekend, down 26%. Domestic total: $124.8 million.]
Photo: Jennifer Lawrence and Liam Hutcherson in "The Hunger Games." Credit: Lionsgate