‘Hunger Games’ Leads Box Office Again With $33.1 Million

A screengrab from the Lions Gate Entertainment Corp. website displays an advertisement for the movie "The Hunger Games". Source: Lions Gate Entertainment Corp. via Bloomberg

“The Hunger Games” was the top film for a third-straight weekend in U.S. and Canadian theaters over the Easter holiday, beating a 3-D makeover of James Cameron’s Oscar-winning epic “Titanic.”

“The Hunger Games” generated $33.1 million in weekend sales, researcher Hollywood.com Box-Office said today in an e-mailed statement. “American Reunion,” the fourth film in the “American Pie” series, opened second with $21.5 million, and “Titanic” took in $17.3 million to finish third.

“The Hunger Games,” based on Suzanne Collins’ best-selling novel about teens forced to fight to the death on live television, has had sales of $302.5 million since it opened March 23. The film from Lions Gate Entertainment Corp. is the first since “The Dark Knight” in July 2008 to sell more than $30 million in tickets three weeks in a row, Hollywood.com said.

“This movie is doing unprecedented business, particularly for a movie that opened in March,” said Hollywood.com’s Paul Dergarabedian in a telephone interview.

The release date has allowed it “unfettered” access to audiences without competition from “summer-style” blockbusters, while favorable reviews and word-of-mouth also helped, Dergarabedian said. The movie has helped domestic cinemas sustain a 20 percent increase in ticket sales this year.

‘American Reunion’

The film features Jennifer Lawrence, who was nominated for an Oscar in the 2010 film “Winter’s Bone,” as Katniss Everdeen, a girl from an impoverished region who volunteers to take her younger sister’s place in the annual competition. The film is the first of as many as four in Collins’s trilogy of young-adult novels. Liam Hemsworth, Josh Hutcherson and Woody Harrelson co-star.

In “American Reunion,” from Comcast Corp.’s Universal Pictures, four buddies from a small Michigan town get together one more time for a high school reunion. The film features original cast members Jason Biggs, Chris Klein, Alyson Hannigan and Eugene Levy.

Third place’s “Titanic” stars Leonardo DiCaprio as a struggling artist who woos an upper-class passenger, portrayed by Kate Winslet, away from her wealthy fiancé as the doomed ship steams toward an iceberg. The film won 11 Academy Awards, including the Oscars for best picture, best director and best visual effects.

Paramount Pictures, a unit of Viacom Inc., is distributing “Titanic” in the U.S. and Canada. News Corp.’s Twentieth Century Fox is handling overseas distribution. The studios co-financed the original film.

3-D Fan Club

Studios have been reissuing older hits in a three-dimensional format, or 3-D, including Walt Disney Co.’s animated “The Lion King” and “Beauty and the Beast.” “The Lion King” makeover, released last September, took in $94.2 million in the U.S. and Canada. “Beauty and the Beast” had $47.4 million, according to Box Office Mojo.

“Audiences seem to love the opportunity to see their beloved classics on the big screen and, with the added bonus of 3-D, it certainly is working,” Dergarabedian said.

“Wrath of the Titans,” a sequel to 2010’s “Clash of the Titans,” fell to fourth place from second with $14.7 million in sales for Time Warner Inc.’s Warner Bros. Sam Worthington plays the part-god Perseus, who must rescue his father, Zeus, from the underworld. Liam Neeson co-stars as Zeus and Ralph Fiennes plays Hades.

“Mirror Mirror,” a tongue-in-cheek take on the story of Snow White, dropped to fifth from third in its second weekend with $11.1 million in receipts. The film from Relativity Media LLC stars Julia Roberts as the evil queen and Lily Collins, the daughter of rock ‘n’ roll singer Phil Collins, as Snow White.

Weekend revenue for the top 12 films rose 13 percent to $116.6 million from the year-earlier period, Hollywood.com said. Year-to-date U.S. box-office sales have risen 20 percent to $2.81 billion while attendance is up 23 percent.

The amounts below are based on tickets sales for April 6 to April 8.

                       Rev.            Avg./   Pct.   Total
Movie                 (mln)  Theaters  Theater Chg.   (mln)  Wks
 1 THE HUNGER GAMES   $33.1    4,137   $8,004  -43   $302.5    3
 2 AMERICAN REUNION    21.5    3,192    6,740   --     21.5    1
 3 TITANIC 3-D         17.3    2,674    6,464   --     25.6    1
 4 WRATH OF THE TITANS 14.7    3,545    4,156  -56     58.6    2
 5 MIRROR MIRROR       11.1    3,618    3,067  -39     36.8    2
 6 21 JUMP STREET      10.0    3,009    3,324  -33    109.4    4
 7 DR. SEUSS’ LORAX     5.0    3,003    1,675  -35    198.2    6
 8 SALMON FISHING       1.0      524    1,894  -22      4.7    5
 9 HOUSEFULL 2          0.8      121    7,001   --      0.8    1
10 JOHN CARTER          0.8    1,015      818  -59     68.0    5
11 SAFE HOUSE           0.6      482    1,195  -26    124.7    9
12 JOURNEY 2            0.5      651      828  -33     99.4    9

Top 12 Films Grosses

This Week Year Ago Pct. (mln) (mln) Chg. =================================== $116.6 $102.8 +13

Year-to-date Revenue

2012 2011 YTD YTD Pct. (mln) (mln) Chg. =================================== $2,810 $2,342 +20 Year-to-date Attendance: +23%
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