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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

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

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?

Who could realistically direct 'Catching Fire' now that Gary Ross has dropped out?

Whoever takes over the directing reigns for The Hunger Games sequel Catching Fire from the recently departed Gary Ross will have to come to the table with a nimble and wide-ranging skill set. The second of Suzanne Collins’ best-selling books in the series is darker, weirder, more political, more violent, and, yes, sexier. Whoever directs its big screen adaptation will obviously need to be adept with visual effects and breakneck action sequences, but also with scenes of political nuance and powerful emotional impact.

She or he will also have to maintain a strong rapport with the established cast; make some crucial casting decisions that will impact the rest of the series; navigate the Hollywood politics of taking over a massively lucrative movie franchise; deliver a PG-13 film that remains true to Collins’ text; and reconcile their artistic sensibility (i.e. ego) with what Ross established in The Hunger Games and Simon Beaufoy (Slumdog Millionaire) has done with his script for Catching Fire.

Most importantly, whoever Lionsgate hires will need to be available to do the job. READ FULL STORY

Gary Ross will not direct second 'Hunger Games' installment 'Catching Fire'

In a surprising turn, The Hunger Games director Gary Ross has bowed out of directing the second part of the trilogy, Catching Fire, which is scheduled for release in November 2013. In a statement from Ross released by Lionsgate, the director said he didn’t feel the schedule allowed him the time to make the movie as he envisioned it. There had been speculation in recent days that Ross and Lionsgate were having trouble coming to an agreement.

“Despite recent speculation in the media, and after difficult but sincere consideration, I have decided not to direct Catching Fire. As a writer and a director, I simply don’t have the time I need to write and prep the movie I would have wanted to make because of the fixed and tight production schedule,” Ross said.

Lionsgate said they are “very sorry that Gary Ross has chosen not to direct Catching Fire.”

Read the complete statements from Ross and the studio below.

READ FULL STORY

Box office report: 'The Hunger Games' three-peats with $33.5 mil, passes $300 million in 17 days

Two new competitors, two more cannons fired. The Hunger Games managed to overcome the debuts of both American Reunion and Titanic 3D, winning its third weekend in a row with $33.5 million.

The sci-fi survival thriller should pass $300 million on Easter Sunday, its 17th day in theaters. It’ll tie Star Wars: Episode III — Revenge of the Sith as the sixth-fastest movie to reach the milestone. (It should be noted that the only Twilight film to ever hit $300 million, The Twilight Saga: Eclipse, did so in 81 days.) At its current pace, The Hunger Games is headed for a final domestic gross between $360 million and $370 million.

American Reunion debuted in second place with $21.5 million. That’d be a commendable opening for most R-rated comedies, but it’s a bit of a disappointment for the fourth entry in the American Pie franchise. The past three American movies opened to an average of $32.4 million, and the first one started out with $18.7 million in 1999 — not much less than American Reunion. Factor in inflation, and American Reunion scored the series’ smallest opening weekend by far. READ FULL STORY

Box office update: 'The Hunger Games' fends off new competitors with $12.9 mil on Friday

Katniss 1, Stifler 0. The Hunger Games is now starting to show off some of its stamina, as the sci-fi survival thriller dropped only 31 percent for an estimated $12.9 million on Friday.

That puts the movie on pace for a $32 million weekend, and means that Katniss should reach $300 million domestically by Sunday night. If that happens, The Hunger Games will have reached $300 million in 17 days, tying Star Wars: Episode III — Revenge of the Sith as the sixth-fastest movie to hit that figure.

In second place was American Reunion, which debuted to $9.2 million on Friday. The R-rated comedy, the fourth theatrical release in the American Pie series, should finish the weekend with about $22 million. That’s a respectable figure, but a bit of a disappointment considering the prior three Pie flicks opened to an average of $32.4 million. The only Pie movie that will have earned a lower opening-weekend number than American Reunion is the original American Pie, which started out with $18.7 million in 1999. Adjust for inflation, though, and that figure jumps past American Reunion to $28.8 million. READ FULL STORY

Box office preview: 'American Reunion' and 'Titanic 3D' attempt to overthrow 'The Hunger Games'

Welcome back, ’90s. Opening this weekend are two nostalgia trips from the era of Seinfeld, grunge music, pogs, and Nintendo 64: the American Pie fourquel American Reunion, and the 3-D re-release of the 1997 blockbuster Titanic. Only one of these movies features Billy Zane dismissing the artistic talents of Pablo Picasso.

But while both films should perform moderately well this weekend, my money’s on The Hunger Games to ultimately win its third weekend in a row, if only by a hair. Here are my predictions for this Easter weekend:

READ FULL STORY

'The Hunger Games' hits a snag with director negotiations, Gary Ross has yet to sign on for sequel

As evidenced everywhere from The Treasure of the Sierra Madre to the work of Notorious B.I.G., there’s nothing like a little success to complicate matters. Following a massive, record-breaking opening for The Hunger Games, Lionsgate’s powerful new franchise has run into a wall. Director Gary Ross, who many assumed would be staying on to helm the sequel, Catching Fire, has yet to sign on for another film, and according to a recent report, contract negotiations are not going smoothly. READ FULL STORY

It was inevitable: MAD Magazine's parody of 'The Hunger Games' -- EXCLUSIVE FIRST LOOK

MAD-Magazine-Hunger-Games-01

It is a tradition that stretches back decades, a ritual of ruthless public mortification that children and children-at-heart have gleefully gobbled up from sea to shining sea. I’m speaking, of course, of the MAD Magazine parody, the venerable humor magazine’s take-no-prisoners tweak of massive pop-cultural events in which nothing is sacred. And in this exclusive first look, we can see what happened when MAD‘s Alfred E. Neuman set his sights on The Hunger Games — or, as MAD puts it, The Hunger Pains.

First thing I noticed from this parody, written by Desmond Devlin, and drawn by artist Tom Richmond: MAD‘s Katniss Everdeen and Peeta Mellark — sorry, that’s Katfood Aspercreme and Meatwad Stretchmark — look like the Capitol fashioned a “muttation” of Jennifer Lawrence and Josh Hutcherson crossed with Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt. The result, as one would expect, is horrifying. Check out the first four pages of the parody below — keeping in mind it comes from the April 24 issue of MAD, entitled “The 50 Worst Things About America.”

READ FULL STORY

Box office report: 'The Hunger Games' stays on top with $61.1 million, holds off 'Wrath' and 'Mirror Mirror'

Not even Olympian gods and a very wicked witch could slow down The Hunger Games‘ exemplary box office run.

The smash adaptation, which scored the third best opening of all time last weekend with $152.2 million, dropped by 60 percent in its second frame to $61.1 million. While that drop may seem hefty, it was all but expected given last weekend’s unbelievable numbers, and it was in the same range as the second weekend drops of comparable blockbusters like Iron Man 2 (-59 percent) and Spider-Man 3 (-62 percent), and, in fact, better than many others like The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 1 (-70 percent). READ FULL STORY

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