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your box office explained

Your Box Office Explained: Hunger Games Routs Stooges, Cabin

Jennifer Lawrence stars as 'Katniss Everdeen' in THE HUNGER GAMES.

This Weekend’s Winner: With $21.5 million, The Hunger Games claimed the top spot for the fourth weekend in a row, something we’d not seen since a little film [here we pause for dramatic effect] … called Avatar.

Also exceeding studio expectations was Fox's The Three Stooges. Coming in at No. 2 with an estimated $17.1 million, it is the Farrelly Bros.’ best-opening film in over a decade.

This Weekend’s Losers: The limited appeal of both the relatively pricey Cabin in the Woods (No. 3 with $14.9 million) and Open Road’s Lockout (No. 9 with $6.3 million) meant that box office overall was down 10 percent compared with the same weekend last year.

How It All Went Down: If you prefer your horror movies smart and your comedies stupid, this would have been the weekend for you; it looks like many went to The Hunger Games instead.

Part of the problem was that the Farrelly Bros.' love letter to slapstick was short on lipstick, with 58 percent of its audiences male — and thanks to its PG rating, awfully young little shavers at that.

The Three Stooges was ultimately for kids, particularly boys under 15 and older men who actually have a fond memory of the Stooges,” explains one former studio marketing chief to Vulture. “They have never been for women.”

Meanwhile, Cabin in the Woods suffered for trying to break new ground in the shopworn horror genre.

“Lionsgate was unable to sell the high concept of Cabin in the Woods, because they would have given away the movie,” sympathized one top production executive well versed in the schlockbuster genre. "[But] when your horror film stars Chris Hemsworth, why not put him on the one sheet?”

Indeed, since the film wrapped, way back in May 2009, Hemsworth has appeared in the sleeper hit Thor and has been out on the hustings promoting this summer’s megahit-to-be, The Avengers. His absence from Cabin marketing’s focus seems conspicuous and a missed opportunity.

And as our marketing expert goes on to note, “The interesting thing is, once again, how far apart critics and the public can be: raves on Rotten Tomatoes [92 percent favorable] and a C Cinemascore; [a] D from women.”

Also dragging grosses down was Lockout, a film so full of clichés that even those who willingly bought a ticket to see a wrongly convicted felon offered his freedom if only he can rescue the president's daughter from an orbiting space prison overrun by rioting inmates gave it a “Meh” B- CinemaScore.

Maybe Lockout would have been better done as a romantic comedy, if only to justify the use of the title You've Got Jail!

Photo: Photo credit: Murray Close