Box Office Preview: 'Stooges,' 'Cabin' Take on 'Hunger Games'; 'Battleship' Sails Overseas

 Lionsgate

Slapstick, horror and sci-fi take on The Hunger Games at the domestic box office this weekend, but the biggest gross will come overseas as Universal and Hasbro's summer tentpole Battleship begins rolling out five weeks ahead of its North American launch.

Battleship is making a major push across Europe and Asia this week and weekend, earning $7.4 million as opened in 16 territories on Wednesday (including previews in 11 of the markets). The film is bowing in a total of 26 territories and expands by another 24 next weekend.

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So far, the tentpole's best numbers are coming out of Asia, where it posted an opening-day gross of $2.8 million in South Korea -- the best ever for an English-language nonsequel and the third-biggest of all time behind Transformers: Dark of the Moon and Shrek the Third.

Overseas, Battleship enjoyed a good start in the U.K., where it grossed $1.5 million in previews, and in Australia, where it opened to $1.1 million on Thursday. Results were a bit softer in France. Initial impressions are that the movie will open well in Europe but could drop off quickly; Asia, China, Latin America and Russia are expected to generate big numbers.

Universal took the unprecedented step of going out so early to give Battleship -- which cost north of $200 million to produce -- a wide berth before May tentpoles The Avengers and Men in Black 3 make their global assaults.

Box-office business will be more muted this weekend in North America. From the Farrelly brothers, 20th Century Fox's big-screen adaptation of The Three Stooges is projected to gross in the $15 million range, if not slightly more, though Fox is giving a lower estimate of $10 million (the film cost a modest $35 million to produce, including rights).

Hunger Games, however, could easily stay at No. 1 in its fourth weekend, with a projected gross of $18 million or more, putting its domestic cume in the $335 million range.

Stooges, featuring Chris Diamantopoulos, Sean Hayes and Will Sasso as Moe, Larry and Curly, respectively, is going after families (especially fathers and sons) with its friendly PG rating. The pic also stars Jane Lynch and Larry David.

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Horror pic The Cabin in the Woods, from Lionsgate and MGM, is expected to gross in the $9 million to $12 million range but could overperform based on exceptionally good reviews. Lionsgate acquired the film from MGM, which made it for roughly $45 million.

Cabin in the Woods was co-written by Drew Goddard and Joss Whedon and directed by Goddard, with Whedon producing. Rated R, the film stars Kristen Connolly, Chris Hemsworth (who also stars in Whedon's upcoming The Avengers), Anna Hutchison, Jesse Williams and Richard Jenkins.

The third new film opening domestically is EuropaCorp's sci-fi action pic Lockout, headlining Guy Pearce and Maggie Grace. Open Road Films is distributing the film for fellow indie distributor FilmDistrict, which is rebuilding its operation after losing Bob Berney and Jeanne Berney, who headed up distribution and marketing, respectively.

Lockout is predicted to open to $6 million to $8 million. James Mather and Stephen St. Leger directed the film from a script they wrote with Europa's Luc Besson. FilmDistrict acquired domestic rights from EuropaCorp.

At the specialty box office, Lee Hirsch's documentary Bully makes a major push after receiving a lowered PG-13 rating, expanding from six theaters in New York and Los Angeles to 158 theaters in 65 markets.

Sony Pictures Classics' The Raid: Redemption also makes a major expansion; it will be playing in more than 650 theaters this weekend, up from about 160 last frame.

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