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The 1990s are so 13 years ago. At least, that was the attitude this weekend when two films with roots in the last decade of the 20th Century came, saw, and had their proverbial butts kicked by something that is very much 2010 and beyond. The Hunger Games made this third weekend in release its bitch, pulling out another $33.1m and breaking past the coveted $300m mark, tying with Revenge of the Sith as the sixth fastest film to do so. The Lionsgate film was also able in its third week of release to surpass every film in the Twilight franchise, but comparisons between the two were dead, buried, resurrected, and staked in the heart about two-and-a-half weeks ago.

With an additional $157.1m in foreign markets – Australia and the UK rank highest with $16.7m and $15.7m, respectively – The Hunger Games if officially a worldwide, cinematic phenom, nearing the half billion mark. The “is he or isn’t he” game Gary Ross and Lionsgate seem to be playing for the sequel, Catching Fire, isn’t stopping audiences from packing theaters, and why should it. Uwe Boll could helm the follow-up, and it’d still bring in record-breaking coin. That’s getting way ahead of ourselves, though, so let’s back-track to the film that’s currently killing everything else in release. Literally killing them. Okay, not literally.

The two films The Hunger Games literally killed this weekend were Titanic 3D and American Reunion aka American Pie: The Reunion aka American This Is the One Where Stifler’s a Dick. The success of each of these films began in the late 1990s when Titanic first saw release and the inaugural American Pie dropped. Not that either of the new films – new for Titanic in that Billy Zane REALLY COMES AT YOU NOW – performed horribly. American Reunion‘s $21.5m was below expectations, but still managed a bigger opening than the first film. American Pie went on to pull in $102.5m domestically, so there’s still a chance American Reunion can overcome this disappointing debut and rake in serious numbers.

Titanic 3D‘s $17.2m this weekend looks rather dismal for Paramount getting any net off the $18m 3D conversion as well as the state of 3D re-releases in general. It looks grim until you consider Titanic 3D got a Wednesday release, brought in a little over $8m before the weekend began, and made an additional $33.5m in foreign territories. It won’t get Titanic back on top as the biggest film in history – Really, it doesn’t matter. Titanic or Avatar, James Cameron is still the king of the world. Yes, literally – but on an even greater scope, the 3D converted re-release gimmick might be winding down to a crawl. Studios are making money off of this, but with minimal returns and the time, effort, and cost it takes to get a film in their library onto 3D screens, you know meetings are being held about how worth it the conversions really are. At this rate, it’ll take Paramount 10-15 re-releases of old titles to scrounge enough dough to make a real blockbuster, one millions of moviegoers haven’t already seen. The return is little at too slow a pace, and the whole notion of 3D conversions is likely well on its way out.

What aren’t on the way out are Bollywood films getting decent-sized, US releases. Once in awhile these films will break into the top 10, and this weekend was one such moments. Housefull 2, apparently the sequel to a 2010 film called Housefull, dropped in with $.8m, giving it a #9 ranking and beating John Carter in fifth weekend out. Ouch. On 121 screens, the Bollywood film only had to scrape together a $7000 per screen average to do exactly what it did. Neither did it hurt that the overall box office was down, way down, and movies #8-10 on the chart came in with under $1m each. Nevertheless, congrats to everyone involved in Housefull 2. There’s surely some singing and dancing going on in the streets of Mumbai, but that happens every weekend, right?

Here’s how the weekend broke down:

  1. The Hunger Games – $33.1m (-43.4%) $302.4m total
  2. American Reunion – $21.5m NEW
  3. Titanic 3D – $17.2m NEW
  4. Wrath of the Titans – $14.7m (-56%) $58.6m total
  5. Mirror Mirror – $11m (-39.5%) $36.7m total
  6. 21 Jump Street – $10m (-32.6%) $109.4m total
  7. Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax – $5m (-35.4%) $198.2m total
  8. Salmon Fishing in the Yemen – $.9m (-22%) $4.6m total
  9. Housefull 2 – $.8m NEW
  10. John Carter – $.8m (-59.1%) $67.9m total

The top 10 brought in a total weekend of $115m, still not a dump of a performance but definitely not the escalated peaks we’ve seen of late. Nothing since The Hunger Games have surpassed or, even worse, lived up to expectations. Still, 2012 is looking better than 2011 thus far with The Lorax closing in on $200m domestic. No film in 2011 was able to do that until Fast Five, and even that didn’t happen until the beginning of June. With some serious, Summer hitters right around the block, 2012 might be having some rubble to wade through, but the diamonds in the rough are going to carry this year to ultimate success.

Before we hit that promised land of Avengers, Men in Black, and Tyler Perry’s The Marriage Counselor, we’ve got a few more weekends to sift. Next weekend has three, potential shockers in Lockout, The Three Stooges, and The Cabin in the Woods. Personal tastes want The Cabin in the Woods to be the third film of 2012 to break $200m, but realistic numbers will prove otherwise. Regardless, the horror/comedy has the best chance of knocking The Hunger Games from its throne.

We’ll be back later in the week to see how the weekend is shaping up.


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