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'The Hunger Games' Battles 'American Reunion,' 'Titanic 3D'


With a few extra holiday family audiences this weekend, the box office should continue its success coming off of a record-breaking March. "The Hunger Games" still looks to be in good shape to finish atop the charts for the third consecutive weekend, but it will have to beat out newcomers "American Reunion" and "Titanic 3D," which are both in line for strong openings.

Released in July of 1999, "American Pie" would go on to change the landscape of adult-geared comedies, setting up one of the most successful comedy franchises of all-time. With a modest price tag of only $11 million and no stars, "American Pie" raked in $102 million domestically and $235 million worldwide, making it one of the most lucrative releases of the year. Even though the fanfare wasn't quite as strong for the two theatrically released sequels, they were still enormously popular, with each grossing more than $100 domestically and $230 million worldwide.

Nearly nine years after "American Wedding" was launched, the entire cast is back together for "American Reunion," a release that now seems all but inevitable. Unfortunately, an R-rating isn't a good fit for a weekend that will mostly be dominated by family audiences, giving a significant edge to "Mirror Mirror," "Titanic 3D" and "The Hunger Games."

But "American Reunion" also has too good of a built-in fan base to be a complete bust and there isn't too much direct competition, as "21 Jump Street" is the only other R-rated release likely to make an impact at the box office this weekend. Adults looking to see what should be the last slice of "American Pie" will help get "American Reunion" off the ground, though an opening in the $25 to $28 million range might not be enough to overtake "The Hunger Games" atop the box office.

Another phenomenon from the late-1990s was "Titanic," the massively praised and ridiculed epic from director James Cameron that shattered record books following its December 1997 release. Before being surpassed by Cameron's "Avatar," "Titanic" was the all-time highest grossing film, raking in more than $600 million domestically and $1.8 billion worldwide. At the time, no release had even crossed $1 billion worldwide and "Titanic" ended up grossing $20 million or more for 10 consecutive weekends in 1997 and 1998.

100 years after the sinking of the great ship, "Titanic 3D" is perfectly timed to capture mainstream audiences not interested in "American Reunion" or "The Hunger Games." Though 3D re-releases haven't all put up big box office numbers, we saw the 3D potential with "The Lion King 3D" and "Titanic 3D" should also resonate with its target audience. Even if "Titanic 3D" will be too old for some families, there should be enough sway with family audiences to push it to a solid $23 to $25 million opening weekend at 2,674 theaters across the country.

As "Titanic 3D" and "American Reunion" both look to find their audience, "The Hunger Games" is still in great position heading into its third weekend. "The Hunger Games" racked up a spectacular $248 million domestically in its first 10 days in theaters and has a shot to cross $300 million by the end of the weekend. For families with older children, "The Hunger Games" is a cheaper option than "Titanic 3D" and that could be just enough for it to finish its third straight weekend as the top U.S. box office draw.

After a record-setting March, the box office looks like it will hit a bit of a lull as we move toward the start of the summer release schedule. Next weekend, sci-fi thriller "Lockout" will hit theaters starring Guy Pearce and horror-comedy "The Cabin in the Woods" gets its wide release, with Chris Hemsworth and Richard Jenkins atop the cast. Also getting launched will be PG "The Three Stooges," though expectations are fairly limited for the Fox release.

RTT Box Office Predictions for 4/6/12 - 4/8/12 (In Millions):

1. The Hunger Games (Lionsgate): $29

2. American Reunion (Universal): $28

3. Titanic 3D (Paramount): $24

4. Wrath of the Titans (Warner Brothers): $15

5. Mirror Mirror (Relativity): $9.5

6. 21 Jump Street (Sony/Columbia): $8

7. The Lorax (Universal): $4.8

8. John Carter (Disney): $1.1

9. Salmon Fishing in Yemen (CBS): $0.6

10. Act of Valor (Relativity): $0.5

by RTTNews Staff Writer

For comments and feedback: editorial@rttnews.com

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