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Hunger Games still dominates

By LOS ANGELES TIMES

This article was published April 6, 2012 at 2:44 a.m.

julia-roberts-left-stars-as-the-evil-queen-and-lily-collins-plays-snow-white-in-relativity-medias-mirror-mirror-it-came-in-third-at-last-weeks-box-office-and-made-more-than-18-million

Julia Roberts (left) stars as the evil queen and Lily Collins plays Snow White in Relativity Media’s Mirror Mirror. It came in third at last week’s box office and made more than $18 million.

— Despite the arrival of new foes at the multiplex, The Hunger Games survived another weekend in the No. 1 position at the domestic box office and approached the quarter-billion dollar mark after just 10 days in release.

The movie, starring Jennifer Lawrence as heroine Katniss Everdeen, collected $58.5 million last weekend, according to an estimate from distributor Lionsgate, bringing its total to $248 million in the U.S. and Canada.

The Hunger Games easily picked off two new films, the 3-D sequel Wrath of the Titans and Mirror Mirror, a modern spin on the Snow White fairy tale. Wrath debuted with $33.4 million while Mirror Mirror grossed $18 million.

The adaptation of Suzanne Collins’ novel about teens battling to the death saw its ticket sales fall 60 percent from opening weekend - a decent hold for a film that many fans rushed out to see upon its premiere. The decline in receipts was partially due to the fact that the movie was no longer playing in 268 Imax theaters. Because Wrath of the Titans was already booked in Imax locations, Hunger Games could remain on the large-format screens for only a week. (Wrath grossed $4.7 million domestically from Imax screenings, compared with the $10.6 million Hunger Games collected from Imax theaters last weekend.)

Those who saw Wrath last weekend assigned it an average grade of B-plus, according to market research firm CinemaScore - slightly better than the B that 2010’s Clash of the Titans received. While the original was criticized for its last-minute 3-D conversion, audiences still liked it, propelling the film to worldwide ticket sales of $493 million. The new film again stars Sam Worthington as Perseus, a half-god, half human battling against the wrath of his brother and an array of angry beasts.

Wrath was co-financed by Warner Bros. and Legendary Pictures for about $150 million - $25 million more than it cost to produce the original, which opened with $61.2 million.

Audiences liked Mirror Mirror as much as Wrath, giving it the same B-plus grade. The PG-rated film, produced and distributed by Relativity Media, attracted a far different demographic- 60 percent of attendees were families with children. Like Warner Bros., Relativity executives are hopeful that the film will perform well in the coming weeks.

Relativity spent more money to create Mirror Mirror than it has any other film - about $100 million, according to a person close to the production who was not authorized to speak publicly. A Relativity spokesman said the cost was $85 million.

Directed by Immortals filmmaker Tarsem Singh, the fairy tale stars newcomer Lily Collins as the storied princess attempting to escape her tyrannical stepmother, an evil queen played by Julia Roberts. In June, another Snow White adaptation will hit theaters: Universal’s more action-driven Snow White and the Huntsman, featuring Kristen Stewart as Snow White.

Mirror Mirror is the latest box office disappointment for Roberts, who seems to be losing her pull with American moviegoers. With the exception of Eat Pray Love, the 2010 film based on Elizabeth Gilbert’s popular memoir, the actress has appeared in a string of flops including Larry Crowne, Duplicity and Charlie Wilson’s War.

MovieStyle, Pages 32 on 04/06/2012

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