REUTERS - Movie sensation "The Hunger Games" survived fresh competition from the "Titanic" and the gross-out "American Pie" gang to notch its third domestic box office win over the weekend.
"Hunger Games" took in $33.5 million at U.S. and Canadian theaters from Friday through Sunday and lifted its domestic sales through three weekends to $302.8 million, according to studio estimates released on Sunday.
The Easter weekend receipts for "Hunger Games" topped "American Reunion," a sequel to one of film's biggest comedy franchises, and a 3D remake of "Titanic" timed for the anniversary of the ship's sinking. It was the third straight box office win for "Hunger Games."
International ticket sales since its opening reached $157.1 million through Sunday, bringing the film's combined domestic and overseas receipts to $460 million.
The Lions Gate Entertainment Corp movie about teens forced to fight to the death stormed into theaters on March 23 with a staggering domestic take of $152.5 million, the third-biggest weekend debut and the highest for a non-sequel.
Fan fever, plus a lack of big competitors at multiplexes, has kept "Hunger Games" hot, said Paul Dergarabedian, president of the box office division of Hollywood.com.
"Great word of mouth, coupled with a release date that has given it a pretty open playing field, has allowed the film to effectively dominate the marketplace," he said.
The movie stars Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss Everdeen, the skilled archer and heroine of the post-apocalyptic story based on Suzanne Collins' best-selling young adult novel.
In second place for the weekend, "American Reunion" met studio forecasts by ringing up $21.5 million in North America (the United States and Canada). International sales added $19.3 million, for a global total of $40.8 million.
Universal Pictures, a unit of Comcast Corp, and privately held Relativity Media co-financed "American Reunion" for about $50 million.
"Reunion" is the fourth movie in the "American Pie" franchise that kicked off 13 years ago with a pack of high-schoolers out to lose their virginity before graduation.
The original film, famous for a scene in which a pie is used to simulate sex, spawned two big-screen sequels and helped lead the way for future raunchy adult comedies. The first three "Pie" films grossed more than $750 million around the world.
In the new movie, the friends played by actors including Jason Biggs, Seann William Scott and Alyson Hannigan come together for a wild high-school reunion.
Exit polls showed 61 percent of "Reunion" filmgoers were older than 25, suggesting that it drew heavily from fans of the previous movies. Audiences gave the movie a "B+" grade in polling by survey firm CinemaScore.
TITANIC LAUNCHES AGAIN
"Titanic" sailed back into theaters on Wednesday with a 3D makeover and grossed an estimated $61.2 million around the world through Sunday. Of that total, $17.4 million came from domestic Friday-through-Sunday sales, ranking the movie in third place on North American charts and meeting studio forecasts.
The original 1997 "Titanic," starring Kate Winslet and Leonardo DiCaprio as young lovers on the doomed ship, was a movie phenomenon that led domestic box office charts for 15 weeks. It earned more than $1.8 billion at theaters, the second-highest total for any film.
Partners 20th Century Fox and Paramount spent $18 million on the 3D conversion, which was released to coincide with the 100th anniversary of the Titanic's sinking on April 15, 1912.
Rounding out the top five, 3D action sequel "Wrath of the Titans" rung up $15 million domestically. The movie had bigger sales overseas, where it pulled in $43 million and helped lift the global total after two weekends to $211.4 million.
Snow White story "Mirror Mirror" took in $11 million, landing in fifth place. The family film has grossed $36.5 million domestically since opening last weekend.
Paramount Corp, a division of Viacom Inc (VIAB.O), distributed "Titanic 3D" in the United States, and News Corp (NWSA.O), a unit of 20th Century Fox, released the film in international markets.
"Wrath of the Titans" was released by Time Warner Inc's (TWX.N) Warner Bros. Privately held Relativity Media distributed "Mirror Mirror" in the United States, and Alliance Films released the movie in Canada.
(Reporting By Lisa Richwine; Editing by Christopher Wilson and Paul Simao)
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