The adaptation of the popular young adult novel fended off competition from the Farrelly brothers' "The Three Stooges," the positively reviewed "Cabin in the Woods" and sci-fi indie "Lockout" over the weekend, collecting another $21.5 million in North American theaters for an estimated domestic gross of $337.1 million.
"Games" is expected to take in at least $370 million domestically and has already earned more than $500 million worldwide, even as director Gary Ross announced he will not return for the follow-up, "Catching Fire," which is set to reunite Jennifer Lawrence and company next year.
The #2 and #3 spots on the box-office scorecard represented a stark contrast in critical opinion. At press time, "The Three Stooges" had a "rotten" 41 percent score on Rotten Tomatoes, which aggregates reviews from film critics, while "The Cabin in the Woods" boasted a "fresh" 92 percent. With $17.1 million in receipts, "Stooges" was the biggest opening for any movie directed by Bobby and Peter Farrelly in over 10 years, having lined up more with early successes like "There's Something About Mary." Following the departures of Jim Carrey and Sean Penn from the long-gestating project, "Stooges" ultimately cast lesser-known actors in the iconic "Stooges" roles.
Speaking of long-in-the-works movies, "Cabin in the Woods" was originally scheduled to be in theaters in 2009. The horror thriller fell victim to MGM's bankruptcy proceedings before eventually being rescued by Lionsgate, the studio behind "The Hunger Games." Co-written by "Avengers" filmmaker Joss Whedon and his "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" collaborator Drew Goddard (who directed), "Cabin" set social media accounts abuzz in film critic circles. It's the type of movie whose supporters have been careful not to spoil the plot. MTV News' own Josh Horowitz tweeted, "Awesome thing alert! 'The Cabin in the Woods' is out. It's real good. That is all."
The only other widely released new film brave enough to do battle with "The Hunger Games" was "Lockout," which floundered with an estimated $6.3 million debut. Produced by action maestro Luc Besson (who directed 1994's classic "Léon: The Professional"), the sci-fi flick's opening fared worse than recent Besson-associated projects including "Transporter 3" ($12.1 million) and "Colombiana" ($10.4 million). "Lockout" had a "rotten" 32 percent score on Rotten Tomatoes at press time. "Lockout" played in 2,308 theaters; by comparison, "Stooges" opened in 3,477 theaters and "Cabin," in 2,811. "The Hunger Games" played in 3,916 theaters.
In 2009, "Avatar" held on to the top spot for seven consecutive weekends, but "Titanic," also helmed by Jim Cameron, still has the top spot both in terms of all-time gross ($600.7 million in the U.S. alone) and consecutive weekends at #1 (15!). The "Titanic 3D" re-release overseen by conversion-convert Cameron was #4 over the weekend, taking in another $11.6 million for a 12-day total of $44.4 million (bringing the overall haul for "Titanic" to $645.2 million).
More than 1,500 people lost their lives when the Titanic sank in the North Atlantic 100 years ago this month — the wreckage wasn't found until 1985. Cameron's epic 1997 film blends facts with romantic fiction. "Titanic" added another record to its box-office scorecard over the weekend as the re-release enjoyed the highest opening ever in China, taking in $58 million.
"American Reunion" rounded out the top five with $10.7 million in its second weekend. The latest entry in the "American Pie" franchise has made $39.9 million to date. All three of the previous theatrically released entries passed the $100 million mark at the domestic box office, a feat that doesn't seem likely for "Reunion."
Zac Efron will be next up to bat against "The Hunger Games" when "The Lucky One" arrives in theaters this weekend, alongside comedian Steve Harvey's "Think Like a Man" and Disneynature's True Life Adventure "Chimpanzee." Joss Whedon will have another crack at the box-office crown with "Marvel's The Avengers" in May.
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