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Box Office: 'Three Stooges' can't stop 'Hunger Games' [Updated]

April 15, 2012 |  9:34 am

"The Three Stooges" finished the weekend No. 2.

"The Hunger Games" got the last laugh at the box office, beating "The Three Stooges" and claiming the No. 1 spot for the fourth consecutive weekend. 

The fantasy epic starring Jennifer Lawrence collected an additional $21.5 million this weekend, according to an estimate from Lionsgate. That means the blockbuster has now raked in $337.1 million in the United States and Canada and over $500 million worldwide. 

Heading into the weekend, it seemed that a new spin on "The Three Stooges" had the only viable shot at taking down the wildly popular Suzanne Collins adaptation. While the trio of goofballs may not have been able to pick off Katniss Everdeen, their film did pull in a decent $17.1 million.

Meanwhile, the Joss Whedon-produced horror film "Cabin in the Woods" started off with a so-so $14.9 million. The sci-fi action flick "Lockout" had a far less impressive opening, only grossing a weak $6.3 million.

"Stooges" marks the best debut for the brother-directors team of Bobby and Peter Farrelly in over a decade. After finding major box-office success in the early 1990s with films such as "Dumb & Dumber" and "There's Something About Mary," the filmmakers have struggled to attract moviegoers to their recent efforts. None of their last four films, including "Stuck on You" and "Hall Pass," opened with over $15 million or ultimately exceeded $45 million. Although "Stooges" should exceed that sum, it's unlikely that the movie will come close to reaching the heights of "Mary," which made $176 million by the end of its run in theaters.

The Farrellys have been working on "Stooges" for over a decade, and during that time big-name stars such as Jim Carrey and Sean Penn were at points attached to star in the movie. Ultimately, the roles of Moe, Larry and Curly went to three lesser-known actors, the most recognizable of whom is Sean Hayes from TV's "Will & Grace." 

Still, those who saw the film this weekend — a 58% male crowd — didn't love it, assigning it an average grade of B-, according to market research firm CinemaScore. Even if word-of-mouth on the movie doesn't end up being fantastic, 20th Century Fox didn't spend much to produce the film: $37 million, after purchasing the rights to the production from MGM, where the picture was previously in development. 

At least "Stooges" fared slightly better with audiences than "Cabin in the Woods," which received a dismal grade of C in CinemaScore. However, critics were enamored by the horror movie, indicating that the marketing campaign may have led moviegoers to believe the film would be different than the one they got in theaters. But Lionsgate's president of distribution, Richie Fay, disagreed with that sentiment, blaming the mediocre grade on "who is collecting the information" for CinemaScore.

Interestingly, the movie played best with an older crowd, 65% of whom were over the age of 25 — not the typical audience for a horror film. Not as surprising was that the picture attracted a 58% male audience.

Originally an MGM project, "Cabin" centers around a group of friends vacationing in a remote cabin when eerie things begin to transpire. The movie was supposed to come out in 2009, but MGM's bankruptcy proceedings held up the process. Lionsgate acquired the movie's worldwide rights for $18 million in May 2011 and has since sold off the international markets.

Playing in about 1,000 fewer theaters than the weekend's other wide releases, "Lockout" failed to resonate with audiences, also garnering a B- in CinemaScore. The movie, starring Guy Pearce as a man trying to rescue the president's daughter from space, appealed to a 65% male contingent.

The movie was made by filmmaker Luc Besson's EurupaCorp for about $20 million and was later acquired by FilmDistrict. This weekend, the film was distributed by Open Road Films, the joint venture between theater chains AMC Entertainment and Regal Entertainment.

[Updated, 12:38 p.m. April 15: Overseas, Walt Disney Studios' "John Carter" crossed the $200-million milestone at the international box office. The film, which is currently playing in 55 foreign countries, collected $2.9 million over the weekend to bring its total abroad to $200.6 million. Stateside, the film barely made a dent at the multiplex in its sixth week of release and has only made $68.7 million. While that means the film's global total is now $269.3 million, that's not nearly enough to make up for the production and marketing costs on the $250-million-plus film.

Here are the Top 10 movies at the domestic box office, with international results when available, according to studio estimates:

1. "The Hunger Games" (Lionsgate): $21.5 million on its fourth weekend, down 35%. Domestic total: $337.1 million. $15 million overseas in 60 foreign markets. International total: $194 million.

2. "The Three Stooges" (Fox): Opened with $17.1 million.

3. "The Cabin in the Woods" (Lionsgate/MGM): Opened with $14.9 million.

4. "Titanic 3-D" (Paramount/Fox): $11.6 million on its second weekend, down 33%. Domestic total: $44.4 million. $88.2 million overseas in 69 foreign markets. International total: $146.4 million.

5. "American Reunion" (Universal/Relativity): $10.6 million on its second weekend, down 50%. Domestic total: $39.9 million. $11.8 million overseas in 34 foreign markets. International total: $40.8 million.

6. "Mirror Mirror" (Relativity): $7 million on its third weekend, down 37%. Domestic total: $49.5 million.

7. "Wrath of the Titans" (Warner Bros./Legendary): $6.9 million on its third weekend, down 53%. Domestic total: $71.3 million. $16 million overseas in 63 foreign markets. International total: $188 million.

8. "21 Jump Street" (Sony/MGM): $6.8 million on its fifth weekend, down 32%. Domestic total: $120.6 million. $4 million overseas in 19 foreign markets. International total: $34 million.

9. "Lockout" (FilmDistrict/Open Road): Opened with $6.3 million. 

10. "Dr. Seuss' The Lorax" (Universal): $3 million on its seventh weekend, down 40%. Domestic total: $204.5 million. $8.6 million overseas in 51 foreign markets. International total: $74.3 million.]


Review: 'The Three Stooges'

Movie tickets: Charge more for hits, less for flops, analyst urges

Movie Projector: 'Three Stooges' are only rival for 'Hunger Games'

— Amy Kaufman

Photo: Will Sasso, left, Chris Diamantopoulos and Sean Hayes star in "The Three Stooges." Credit: 20th Century Fox