The Hunger Games beat the odds again, winning the box-office race for the third weekend in a row. This time the movie’s victims were two remnants of the late 1990s: American Reunion, a fourth time around for the horny kids who first convened in American Pie; and Titanic, the 3D relaunch of James Cameron’s 1997 mega-smash.
Dropping an acceptable 43% from last weekend, The Hunger Games, based on Suzanne Collins’ best-seller about a Survivor-style tournament of teens hunting teens, earned $33.4 million at race at North American theaters, according to preliminary studio estimates. Its threepeat success matches those of last year’s women-driven hits, The Help and The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 1.
(READ: TIME’s review of The Hunger Games)
The movie’s domestic take has reached $302.8 million, with another $157.1 million reported from foreign markets. It’s the first picture to cross the $300-million mark at North American theaters since last summer’s tandem of Transformers: Dark of the Moon and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2, and the only Jan.-Mar. film except for Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland to hit that threshold. The next challenge: beating the $381-million domestic haul for the Potter finale, the top-grossing film of 2011. For a movie released in early spring to exceed the record-breaking revenue of a summer champ would be a heroic feat indeed.
American Reunion’s predecessors (American Pie in 1999, American Pie 2 in 2001 and American Wedding in 2003) each grossed at least $100 million at home and $100 million abroad. But with the new edition opening to just $21.5 million — less than either of the previous sequels, in real or inflated dollars — it will have trouble reaching those plateaux. The first-weekend audience, split evenly by gender but skewing older, with 61% of attendees over 25, gave the movie a B-plus rating, as tabulated by the CinemaScore research firm. Reunion did well abroad, collecting $19.3 million in a 28-country debut. Maybe the title should be changed to International Reunion.
(READ: TIME’s review of American Reunion)
Commemorating the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the RMS Titanic, and spiffed up with an $18-million 3D makeover, Cameron’s alchemical blend of disaster movie and doomed love story reopened Wednesday. It reconnected with its old constituency of young women (60% of the audience was female, 51% under 25), who gave the film a white-star A rating from CinemaScore (A-plus from women). The movie also registered well abroad, with $35.5 million, following the contours of its original release, when 67% of its worldwide box office came from foreign markets. In North America, the picture’s first-five-day gross was a respectable $25.7 million.
(READ: TIME’s review of the Titanic revival)
The domestic weekend numbers, though, were soggy. Its $17.35 million was well below the first-weekend grosses of other beloved films in recent rerelease: $30.15 million for Disney’s The Lion King last fall (and $21.9 million the second weekend), $17.75 million for the Mouse House’s Beauty and the Beast this January and $22.5 million for Star Wars Episode I — The Phantom Menace in February. At 3hr.14min., Titanicis twice the length of most animated features, and an hour longer than the Jar Jar Binksathon, which translates to fewer evening screenings. But Hollywood was expecting a bigger splash from the relaunch, not a sinking feeling.
Among indie releases, Whit Stillman’s larkish coed caper Damsels in Distress opened at four theaters and earned $64,199, for the highest per-screen average of the week; and the Nanni Moretti Italian comedy We Have a Pope took in $31,500 on three screens. Another foreign-language comedy appealed to the Indian diaspora: Housefull 2— a nonsequel, despite its title, to the 2010 Bollywood hit — parlayed the Hindi star quality of Akshay Kumar and Ritesh Deshmukh into a $743,000 weekend in specialty theaters, according to a report from The Wrap.
Lee Hirsch’s documentary Bully, now sporting a kid-friendly PG-13 rating, generated $74,686 at six venues in its second weekend and will expand to 55 theaters on Friday. The more cheerful Jiro Dreams of Sushi, a profile of the 85-year-old sushi chef Jiro Ono, grossed $240,000 on 70 screens and became the year’s first doc to reach $1 million at the North American box office. Jiro has a way to go to challenge Katniss, but for a documentary about a Tokyo cook that’s a truly tasty total.
Here are the Sunday estimates of this weekend’s top-grossing pictures in North American theaters, as reported by Box Office Mojo:
1. The Hunger Games, $33.4 million; $302.8 million, third week
2. American Reunion, $21.5 million, first weekend
3. Titanic 3D, $17.35 million, first weekend; $25.7 million, first five days of release
4. Wrath of the Titans, $15 million; $58.9 million, second week
5. Mirror Mirror, $11 million; $36.5 million, second week
6. 21 Jump Street, $10.2 million; $109.6 million, fourth week
7. Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax, $5 million; $198.2 million, sixth week
8. Salmon Fishing in the Yemen, $975,000; $4.6 million, fifth weeks
9. John Carter, $820,000; $68 million, fifth week
10. Safe House, $581,000; $124.75 million, ninth week