'Star Wars' poised to fall to 'Phantom Menace'; is 'Titanic' next?
Hollywood’s 3D redos are re-writing box office history.By the end of Friday, Fox’s “Star Wars: Episode I — The Phantom Menace,” with a lifetime gross of $456 million as of Wednesday, will become the highest-grossing PG-rated film of all time, surpassing the original “Star Wars” at $460 million (not accounting for inflation). “Episode I” bowed last weekend for the first time in 3D, collecting a better-than-expected $22.5 million. Pic’s 3D version enters the weekend with $25.2 million. “The Lion King,” meanwhile, nabbed the G-rated crown from “Toy Story 3” last year. Here’s how that 3D shake-up shakes out: Disney launched its 3D “Lion King” to a boffo Stateside tally of $94 million. Added to the film’s large-format (including Imax) re-release in 2002, which totaled $15.7 million, “The Lion King” has cumed a grand U.S. total of $423 million. “Toy Story 3” ended with $415 million. Records aside, these 3D redos have become a tidy way for studios to boost their bottom line. Disney bowed last month “Beauty and the Beast” in 3D, with the pic approaching $50 million for a theatrical lifetime domestic cume of $217 million. The Mouse currently has in the pipeline three more conversions slated for this year and next, including “Finding Nemo,” “Monsters, Inc.” and “The Little Mermaid.” Up next is James Cameron’s 3D treatment of “Titanic,” which Paramount is releasing on April 4. It would need to make $160 milllion Stateside to reclaim its all-time box office crown from “Avatar” — which seems doable, given the frenzy it created when it was originally released in 1997.