James Cameron's 3D redux earns $88 mil; U tentpole debuts with $58 mil

As domestic box office suffered from the usual post-Easter slump, a pair of international flagships — “Titanic3D and “Battleship” — helped raise the global tide.

“Titanic,” which is being released overseas by Fox Intl., grossed an astounding $88.2 million in its second frame, of which $58 million came from six days in China, making it Fox’s best-ever Chinese bow.

The 3D re-tread reached $190.8 million worldwide, pushing the film’s lifetime the atrical cume past the $2 billion mark worldwide. Universal’s “Battleship,” meanwhile, collected an estimated $58 million from 26 overseas markets. Pic launched more than a month ahead of its Stateside bow on May 18.

While the ships sailed on overseas, it was the domestic biz’s lowest-grossing weekend of the year with an estimated $110 million, with total box office down approximately 12% from last year.

Still, Lionsgate’s “The Hunger Games” displayed marathon-like stamina, dropping just 35% from its previous frame, with an estimated $21.5 million through Sunday. “Hunger Games” scored its fourth straight domestic triumph and has cumed $337.1 million. Pic’s worldwide tally reached $530 million.

Fox’s re-imagining of “The Three Stooges” performed at the high end of tracking projections with an estimated No. 2 take of $17.1 million, followed by Lionsgate’s horror pic “The Cabin in the Woods,” which scored $14.9 million. Neither debut pic represented a major financial investment.

The same goes for the weekend’s third new entry, FilmDistrict’s “Lockout,” which cost a reported $20 million from EuropaCorp. “Lockout,” via a service deal with Open Road Films, earned a tepid $6.3 million in three days.

Domestic B.O. typically slows down the weekend after Easter as kids go back to school. The international biz, meanwhile, benefited from Hollywood tentpoles launching overseas before the U.S.

In 2010, Paramount’s “Iron Man 2″ essentially kickstarted the summer sesh first internationally. For “Battleship,” U aimed to avoid this year’s crowded summer pipeline made even more congested overseas by the Olympics and the European soccer championship. A few other pics, like Disney-Marvel’s “The Avengers,” also will go somewhat early overseas.

Despite this weekend’s Stateside slump, year-to-date domestic B.O. continues to far outpace last year’s running total. “The biz is definitely in good shape headed into summer,” noted one studio distribution exec.

‘Titanic’ booty o’seas

James Cameron’s “Titanic” 3D hasn’t become a Stateside phenomenon, but the retro-fit certainly made waves overseas, illustrating the ravenous appetite for certain conversions among international auds.

Undoubtedly, China represents the film’s all-star territory, where the 3D version already outgrossed the original’s entire theatrical Chinese take by 32%.

The success of “Titanic” 3D in China points to an opportunity for other retrofits that could capitalize on a more developed Chinese exhibition market since their initial release.

“Battleship,” which launches next week in China, debuted at No. 1 in 20 of its total 26-country spread, including South Korea ($8 million), the U.K. ($6.1 million) and Germany ($5 million). The pic also earned top marks in Japan, where it grossed $4.9 million — better than “Iron Man” and “John Carter” locally.

U will expand “Battleship” into an additional 36 territories throughout this month and next.

Stateside ‘Stooge’-ing

The weekend’s newest Stateside players each skewed mostly male, leaving holdovers like “Hunger Games” and “Titanic” to dominate among femmes. “Three Stooges,” which drew 58% males, played slightly better with under-25 auds and families, while “Cabin in the Woods” scored best with adults. “Lockout” saw a more even split between over- and under-25 filmgoers.

Lionsgate distribution head Richie Fay said that the over-25 turnout for “Cabin” suggests the film could hold better than most horror pics, since “older audi ences tend to be less impulsive.”

What’s more, “Cabin” has been getting unusually glowing reviews, with an added promising Friday-to-Saturday bump — even if it was only by 3%, as most horror pics fall from opening day. “Cabin” received a less-enthusiastic C CinemaScore rating, though scarers score lower ratings in general.

Lionsgate acquired worldwide rights to “Cabin” last May from MGM for a minimum guarantee in the high teens. Pic had been on the shelf for three years during MGM’s flux. Lionsgate reportedly spent in the mid-$20 millions to market the film.

“Three Stooges,” which cost $35 million to produce, received an overall B- rating, but the film played better (A-) with its core under-25 demo.

Chris Aronson, exec VP of distribution and general sales manager at Fox, pointed to the film’s under-25 turnout as a promising start, especially given the property’s mid-20th century origins. “It seems that our intrepid ‘Stooges’ have poked their way into a new generation of fans,” Aronson quipped.

TWC’s ‘Bully’ broadens

In its first frame with the newly revised PG-13 rating, the Weinstein Co.’s “Bully” expanded to 158 locations (up 152 from last weekend), grossing an estimated $534,000 for a Stateside cume of $813,202.

Here’s how “Bully” stacks up against comparable docus during their first outing at north of 150 playdates: Last year, “Buck” earned $386,172 from 152 locations in its fourth frame. 2010′s “Waiting for Superman” tallied $742,725 — also during its fourth outing — from 182 Stateside playdates. “Buck” cumed $4 million domestically; “Superman,” $6.4 million.

Scoring the weekend’s best per-screen average, Codeblack Entertainment’s urban drama “Woman Thou Art Loosed: On the 7th Day,” through a distribution partnership with AMC-Independent, averaged a projected $6,376 from 102 playdates. Pic tallied a total estimated $650,319.

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