'Hunger Games' has slight edge over 'Stooges,' 'Cabin'

A fierce three-way bout at the top of the domestic B.O. this weekend has Lionsgate’s fourth frame holdover “The Hunger Games” with a slight leg up at $6.5 million Friday.

Close behind, openers “The Three Stooges” and “The Cabin in the Woods” landed within spitting distance of one another, with an estimated $5.6 million and $5.5 million, respectively. All three top pics are expected to finish the weekend with close to $20 million.

The two films vying for second on Friday could not be more different. Fox’s “Three Stooges,” which has the best chance of causing an upset as family films are more likely to see an uptick in sales Friday to Saturday, is a PG-rated feature take on the slapstick comedy trio popular between the 1930s and 1950s. Its brand recognition and healthy advance online ticketing might just be enough to dethrone the week-to-week champ, “Hunger Games.”

Conversely, Lionsgate’s “Cabin in the Woods” is an R-rated horror pic that may benefit greatly from good reviews and word-of-mouth. Scarers typically open strong and have steep drop offs over a three day weekend, which is working against its odds of taking first at the moment. But positive buzz for the film could still carry it through.

Universal’s fourquel “American Reunion” took in roughly $3.4 million. Paramount’s “Titanic” 3D retread also earned about $3.4 million. The other major opener this weekend was “Lockout,” distribbed by Open Road on behalf of FilmDistrict. Actioner came in sixth with roughly $2.2 million Friday.

Overseas, Uni’s “Battleship” opens in 11 markets five weeks before its Stateside bow, and is expected to take the the int’l B.O. this weekend.

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