Box Office Guru

Box Office Guru Wrapup: Hunger Games Wins #1 Spot for Third Time

by | April 9, 2012 | Comments

North American moviegoers made The Hunger Games the first film of the year to spend three straight weeks at number one as the runaway blockbuster easily topped the Easter frame and shattered the $300M milestone in the process. 1990s nostalgia led the comedy sequel American Reunion to open in second place and the 3D re-release of Titanic to bow in third. Only one film fell into the normally wide range of $1M to $10M this weekend as a handful of pics accounted for almost all of the business over the holiday session which was about even with last year’s bunny session.

Topping the box office for a third consecutive weekend, The Hunger Games pulled in an estimated $33.5M in ticket sales and shattered the triple-century mark in the process. Lionsgate enjoyed a respectable 43% decline and watched the cume soar to $302.8M after just 17 days of play. The Katniss hit now ranks number 37 on the list of all-time domestic blockbusters (just ahead of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince) and has grossed more than every one of the Twilight movies. It even stands a chance of topping every Potter film too as its trajectory puts it on course to finish near the $381M of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 which got a boost from 3D surcharges. With many high schools and colleges having spring breaks this month and a not-so-strong April line-up of new releases, Hunger Games could certainly maintain solid holds in the weeks to come.

American Reunion, the eighth film in the American Pie franchise and fourth to be released theatrically, debuted in second place with decent results grossing an estimated $21.5M from 3,192 locations for a $6,725 average. The latest installment in the aging series did not reach the heights of the last sequels that played in theaters – 2003’s American Wedding and 2001’s American Pie 2 – which bowed to $33.4M and $45.1M. Both were launched in the busier summer season, but also had lower ticket prices. Reunion beat by a small margin the opening weekend gross of the groundbreaking first film in the franchise which debuted to $18.7M in 1999, but sold about 25% fewer tickets.

Produced for $50M, a sizable amount for a comedy with no major bankable stars, American Reunion skewed older with studio research showing that 61% was 25 and older. Appeal was mostly even across genders with males making up 51% of the crowd. Reviews were mostly unflattering while paying audiences were generally satisfied with the entertainment value giving the R-rated pic a B+ grade from CinemaScore. Much has changed in the world of raunchy comedies since the last American Pie film was in theaters with Judd Apatow, Sacha Baron Cohen, and the Hangover films pushing the boundaries to new heights making the humor from Jason Biggs and pals not so bold anymore.

More than 14 years after breaking box office records, James Cameron’s Titanic sailed back into theaters with a 3D re-release but found itself in third place, a position the original film did not sink to until its 17th weekend. The Paramount release launched on Wednesday in 2,674 theaters – the exact same number of locations it debuted in on December 19, 1997 – and grossed an estimated $17.4M over the Friday-to-Sunday weekend period and $25.7M across the five-day span. Averaging $6,488 per site, the Oscar champ lifted its domestic lifetime total to $626.5M, still number two all-time after the director’s Avatar which banked $760.5M including its re-release.

The return of the iceberg romance was timed to coincide with the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the ship. Having a chance to make more money may also have been a factor. 3D re-releases of hits from the 1990s have become common lately. Last September, Lion King 3D bowed to $30.2M while in January Disney unleashed Beauty and the Beast 3D to a four-day $22.2M holiday opening. In February, the George Lucas pic Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace got the same treatment and opened to $22.5M.

The first time around, Titanic made its cash from repeat business and unstoppable legs. There is no telling yet how the 3D update will hold up as it may play like similar re-releases with most business upfront from die-hard fans willing to pay again for one more theatrical experience, but no second helpings. Beast and Menace both dropped by more than half on their sophomore frames earlier this year. Titanic 3D did earn a solid A grade from CinemaScore so good word-of-mouth is certainly spreading.

Overseas, Titanic 3D debuted to $35.5M from 53 markets for a worldwide launch of $61.2M this weekend. It was number one in the U.K., Italy, and Germany with China getting its massive roll-out including 2,400 3D screens started on Tuesday. 20 more countries including Brazil and Mexico open next weekend. With the global launch, the worldwide lifetime gross has now broken the $1.9 billion mark with Cameron likely to have his second $2 billion megahit soon.

Tumbling 55% in its second weekend was the 3D epic sequel Wrath of the Titans which collected an estimated $15M raising the ten-day cume to $58.9M. That’s a whopping 47% behind the $110.2M that its predecessor Clash of the Titans grossed over the same period which also included Easter. Look for Warner Bros. to end its run with about $90M.

Fellow sophomore Mirror Mirror held up much better thanks to the school holiday and a lack of competition for kids dipping 39% to an estimated $11M. Relativity’s fairy tale adventure starring Julia Roberts has banked $36.5M in ten days and could reach nearly $70M making for one of the best performances for the Oscar-winning actress in a major role over the past decade.

Breaking through the $100M mark in its fourth weekend, the hit buddy comedy 21 Jump Street followed with an estimated $10.2M easing just 31% giving Sony $109.6M to date. Universal’s The Lorax got a little help from the Easter holiday and dipped 36% to an estimated $5M boosting the cume to $198.2M after its sixth round. That puts the 3D Dr. Seuss flick ahead of past spring toons as it is running 37% ahead of 2008’s Horton Hears a Who and 51% ahead of last year’s 3D entry Rio.

Indie drama Salmon Fishing in the Yemen slipped a mere 23% to an estimated $975,000 putting the total for CBS Films at $4.6M. Sci-fi disaster John Carter collapsed by 60% to an estimated $820,000 with a disappointing $68M for Disney so far with not much more to come. Universal’s Safe House rounded out the top ten with an estimated $581,000, down 26%, for a terrific $124.8M so far.

The top ten films grossed an estimated $115.9M which was up 1% from last Easter which fell in late April when Rio remained in the top spot for a second weekend with $26.3M; but down 30% from 2010’s holiday when Clash of the Titans debuted at number one with $61.2M.

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