Box office preview: 'Cabin in the Woods' and 'Three Stooges' take on 'The Hunger Games'

Cabin-in-the-Woods

Image Credit: Diyah Pera

Three new wide releases are stepping into the arena this weekend alongside 2012’s biggest hit so far, The Hunger Games, but none of them appear likely to dethrone the box office titan, which has grossed $312.7 million in its first 20 days in theaters.

Horror entry Cabin in the Woods has a better shot at reaching the top of the chart than slapstick comedy The Three Stooges or action thriller Lockout, but in the post-Easter frame, Katniss has her eyes on the top prize for one final weekend. Will she nab the victory?

Here’s how the box office may shake out:

1. The Hunger Games – $20 million

After three weekends atop the chart, The Hunger Games isn’t going anywhere. Last frame, the dystopian thriller dipped by 43 percent (that weekend was both boosted by Good Friday grosses and weakened by Easter Sunday grosses), so another drop of about 40 percent seems likely. That would give The Hunger Games about $20 million, lifting its total to $335 milion and keeping it on track for a $370 million finish.

2. Cabin in the Woods – $15 million

Lionsgate’s Drew Goddard-directed and Joss Whedon-produced horror entry has been sitting on the shelf for about three years, which is usually a sure sign of a stinker. In this case, Cabin in the Woods, which has earned glowing reviews overall, bucks the trend. After a buzzy run at SXSW, Cabin, which was made for a reported $30 million, is looking at a moderately successful opening weekend, but it will need to rely on strong word-of-mouth to become a legitimate hit. Although Lionsgate has marketed the film heavily, it’s been difficult for the studio to effectively communicate the film’s super-secret storyline, for fear of giving away the surprising plot — and thus taking away from the theatrical experience. Thankfully, ample buzz should overcome the confusion and help Cabin in the Woods gross $15 million this weekend.

3. The Three Stooges – $12 million

Fox’s $30 million slapstick comedy looks utterly antiquated in its comedic stylings, which has made marketing a challenge — although Stooges has earned surprisingly positive reviews. Some young males looking for a family option other than Mirror Mirror will rejoice in the goofy comedy’s release, but it’s more likely that general audiences are turned off by the little footage they’ve already seen. It might make about $12 million this frame.

4. Titanic 3D – $11 million

James Cameron’s blockbuster pulled out of port more slowly than the last live action re-release, Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace, which debuted to $22.5 million. Still, it’s likely to hold better in the subsequent weeks than the frontloaded fanboy film. A 35 percent drop would give Titanic about $11 million over the Friday-to-Sunday period.

5. American Reunion – $10 million

The fourth installment of the American Pie franchise will face the same sort of second-weekend drop as most sequels at the box office. A decline of about 55 percent might give the comedy $10 million and keep it on track to be the lowest earner in the series.

Also entering theaters is the Guy Pearce/Maggie Grace thriller Lockout, which, despite an effective trailer, hasn’t garnered much buzz. It may earn about $6.5 million.

What will you be seeing this weekend?

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