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Box office preview: Will 'The Five-Year Engagement' earn as much as 'Bridesmaids'?

Four new wide releases enter theaters this weekend — rom-com The Five-Year Engagement, kiddie flick The Pirates! Band of Misfits, literary thriller The Raven, and Jason Statham’s Safe — but will any of them be able to take out Think Like A Man, which ended The Hunger Games‘ reign atop the box office last week?

Check out my predictions below:

1. The Five-Year Engagement – $20 million

The Jason Segel/Emily Blunt romantic comedy is the latest 2012 release to target women, and if the success of The Vow, The Lucky One, and Think Like A Man are any indication, females should turn out this weekend as well. The Five-Year Engagement, which was produced by Universal for a modest $30 million, has been framed as a companion to Bridesmaids, which opened in May 2011 to $26.2 million before grossing $169 million overall.  If the hot pink and white color scheme of the advertisements didn’t make that connection clear, then the fact that every inch of marketing includes the words “FROM THE PRODUCER OF BRIDESMAIDS” should. Oh yeah — it’s also about a wedding.

Tracking for the film has been encouraging in the weeks leading to its release, and while it hasn’t garnered quite the same amount of buzz as the ultra-bawdy Bridesmaids did last year, its prospects are pretty rosy. Jason Segel has become a more familiar face thanks to the success of The Muppets and Forgetting Sarah Marshall, and although Emily Blunt is not a proven box office draw, she comes across nicely in advertisements. Sure, The Lucky One will eat up a bit of the film’s core female demographic, but guys should turn up in higher volumes for a straight-up comedy like Engagement, which stars Segel as well as Parks and Recreation‘s Chris Pratt. Playing in 2,936 theaters, the wedding comedy may pick up about $20 million and find legs in the weeks to come.

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'Hunger Games' and 'Lorax' lead 2012's box office boom: Are we headed for a record-breaking year?

Sorry, Lisbeth Salander — you tried your best, but apparently, what Hollywood really needed to revive the box office was a fuzzy orange puffball and starving archer named Katniss.

Yep, in 2012, titles like The Hunger Games and The Lorax have lifted the box office high above its late-2011 woes. In case you forgot, 2011 ended up being the least-attended year at the movies since 1995 after sure bets such as The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo and The Adventures of Tintin floundered at the box office during the normally lucrative holiday season.

Still, almost as soon as the ball dropped on New Year’s Eve, the box office’s fortunes completely turned around.

Every movie — from 21 Jump Street to The Vow to the aforementioned Games — suddenly seemed to be over-performing (except John Carter, of course). After 114 days, the 2012 box office had amassed $3.16 billion — a whopping 17 percent above the $2.70 billion that had been earned at the same point in 2011 — and the healthy grosses don’t look likely to slow down anytime soon. What’s behind the big bump? We brought that question to two box office analysts, BoxOfficeGuru.com‘s Gitesh Pandya and BoxOffice.com‘s Phil Contrino. Here’s what the industry experts had to say: READ FULL STORY

Box office report: 'Think Like a Man' halts the 'Hunger Games' train with $33 mil

It had to happen. After four weeks of dominance, The Hunger Games finally didn’t finish first at the box office.

Instead, the relationship comedy Think Like a Man took the crown as it debuted to an impressive $33 million this weekend. Based on comedian Steve Harvey’s bestselling advice book Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man, the PG-13 film performed much better than expected. (Although I predicted the movie would win the weekend, I thought it would do so with a moderate $19 million.)

Think Like a Man was produced for just $13 million by Sony-owned Screen Gems, which was also behind two other pictures that premiered at No. 1 this year: The Vow and Underworld Awakening. The studio’s marketing campaign targeted African American audiences via appearances on Harvey’s morning show, screenings at historically black universities, and special promotions on networks like BET. READ FULL STORY

Box office update: 'Think Like a Man' dethrones 'The Hunger Games' with $12.2 mil on Friday

After 28 straight days at No. 1, The Hunger Games finally passed its box-office crown on to someone else. The relationship comedy Think Like a Man debuted in first with a better-than-expected $12.2 million on Friday, according to early estimates. That puts the PG-13 movie on track for an opening weekend around $33 million — a big win for Sony-owned Screen Gems, which produced the flick for only $13 million.

Think Like a Man — which was directed by Tim Story and features an ensemble cast including Michael Ealy, Jerry Ferrara, Meagan Good, Regina Hall, Kevin Hart, Taraji P. Henson, Gabrielle Union, and Chris Brown — was the first film to specifically target an African American audience since February’s Tyler Perry’s Good Deeds. However, with an opening day estimate that was larger than all of Tyler Perry’s films except Madea Goes to Jail, there’s a good chance Think Like a Man had some crossover appeal. The movie received a superb “A” rating from CinemaScore audiences. It also skewed toward older women, with 68 percent of the audience being female and 75 percent at least 25 years old. READ FULL STORY

'The Hunger Games' set to return to IMAX screens for one-week run

IMAX and Lionsgate announced this morning that The Hunger Games, the smash adaptation of Suzanne Collins’ dystopian best-seller starring Jennifer Lawrence and Josh Hutcherson, will return to up to 100 IMAX digital theaters across North America starting on April 27. The movie will play for a one-week engagement through May 3. The film pulled in a gang-busters $13.2 million in its original one-week run at IMAX theaters, a nice bonus to its current $533 million global box office.

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Francis Lawrence offered 'Catching Fire' director gig

Barely a week after Gary Ross bowed out of directing Catching Fire, the sequel to his blockbuster megahit The Hunger Games, Francis Lawrence has been offered the hotly contested job, EW has confirmed.

The I Am Legend helmer — no relation to star Jennifer Lawrence — won the gig over reported contender Bennett Miller (Moneyball), whose commitment to a fall shoot for the biopic Foxcatcher likely ultimately put him out of the running. (The Hollywood Reporter first broke the story.)

Catching Fire is set on a much larger, more exotic canvas than The Hunger Games, and the choice suggests Lionsgate was keen on Lawrence’s ability to handle large-scale visual effects sequences while also giving them a sense of style. He’ll have precious time to prepare; Catching Fire already has a set release date (Nov. 22, 2013), and needs to finish shooting by December, in time for Jennifer Lawrence to begin production on the sequel to X-Men: First Class.

Read more:
‘Catching Fire’ poll: Who would you rather see in the director’s seat?
‘Catching Fire’ director gig down to Francis Lawrence, Bennett Miller: Reports
‘The Hunger Games’: 2012′s biggest movie?

Box office preview: 'Think Like a Man' and 'The Lucky One' will finally overthrow 'The Hunger Games'

Assuming The Hunger Games tops the box office on Thursday, the sci-fi thriller will have been No. 1 for 28 straight days — the longest daily streak since 1999′s The Sixth Sense held on to first place for 35 days. But Katniss’ reign at the box office will likely come to an end this weekend, as two new date movies — the relationship comedy Think Like a Man and the romance The Lucky One — will fight over the crown.

Also opening is Disney’s fourth-annual Earth Day nature documentary. This year’s offering is Chimpanzee, which should open to around $7 million — slightly better than last year’s African Cats, which started out with $6 million. Here are my predictions for the weekend: READ FULL STORY

'Catching Fire' director gig down to Francis Lawrence, Bennett Miller: Reports

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Update: Francis Lawrence offered the Catching Fire directing role. Read the latest news here

And then there were (probably) two. Multiple reports have surfaced on the web today that filmmakers Francis Lawrence and Bennett Miller are the final two contenders for the director of The Hunger Games sequel Catching Fire. (The Los Angeles Times appears to have first broke the story.)

The choice for the replacement of Hunger Games‘ Gary Ross — who bowed out of the Catching Fire gig last week, citing the tight production schedule — are pretty stark. Lawrence has extensive experience with visual effects-driven action sequences from his first two films, 2005′s supernatural thriller Constantine and 2007′s post-apocalyptic thriller I Am Legend — which shares a similarly bleak tone to Catching Fire. But his latest effort, the 2011 period drama Water for Elephants, fizzled at the box office, and landed mixed reviews for its handling of the star-crossed romance between Robert Pattinson and Reese Witherspoon. Many complained that the weakest part of Hunger Games was the romance between Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence, no relation), and Peeta (Josh Hutcherson), and the romantic angle is far more front-and-center for Catching Fire.

Miller, by contrast, has practically no first-hand experience with CG-effects-heavy action scenes, and Catching Fire features more exotic locations that would likely call for extensive green-screen and effects work. READ FULL STORY

Box office report: 'Hunger Games' wins with $21.5M, passes $500M worldwide; 'Three Stooges' and 'Cabin in the Woods' debut decently

For the fourth weekend in a row, The Hunger Games easily led the domestic box office, holding off three new wide releases from the top spot.

Lionsgate’s $90 million blockbuster adaptation earned $21.5 million over the Friday-to-Sunday period, marking a slim 32 percent drop from last weekend. All told, The Hunger Games has earned $337.1 million after 24 days and seems headed for a final domestic total of about $375 million. The only other 2012 releases likely to reach those sorts of numbers are franchise films The Avengers, The Dark Knight Rises, and The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. READ FULL STORY

Box office update: 'The Hunger Games' tops Friday with $6.5 million, 'Stooges' beat 'Cabin' for second

Katniss and her fellow tributes aren’t ready to give up the box office throne just yet!

The Hunger Games hasn’t left first place since its March 23 debut, and judging by Friday’s box office numbers, the thriller will enjoy a fourth frame atop the chart, too. Games took in an estimated $6.5 million yesterday, putting it on pace for about $20 million this weekend. READ FULL STORY

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