Martin Grove’s Hollywood Report 04-02-12

“Titanic 3D” – Kate Winslett & Leonardo DiCaprio

“Titanic 3D” – Kate Winslett & Leonardo DiCaprio

Kate Winslett at London premiere

Kate Winslett at London premiere

Zac Efron and Taylor Schilling in “The Lucky One”

Zac Efron and Taylor Schilling in “The Lucky One”

April action: As the transition between winter’s end and the start of summer, April isn’t known for sizzling boxoffice business.

Thanks, however, to the ongoing strength of Lionsgate’s “The Hunger Games” and some potentially strong new releases arriving over the next few weeks, this April could see much better action than usual.

With “Hunger” biting off another $61 million last weekend, it’s grossed about $251 million in 10 days and has the rest of April to mop up at least another $75 million in business.

April’s also likely to get a boxoffice boost from Warner Bros. and Legendary Pictures’ 3D fantasy action adventure “Wrath of Titans,” which opened last weekend to about $34 million and will grind away in the coming weeks.

Those two late March openings should give April a solid base of ticket sales. The month should kick off to a strong first weekend driven by Paramount’s 3D reissue of James Cameron’s mega-blockbuster “Titanic” and Universal’s R rated romantic comedy “American Reunion.”

“Titanic,” which drops anchor in theatres Apr. 4, has been tracking nicely. Its making the most waves with under-25 females eager to see Kate Winslet and Leonardo DiCaprio embracing again, but this time in 3D. Even though the picture grossed $600.8 million in domestic theatres the first time around in 1997, there’s a whole new audience today that was too young to have seen it then.

“Reunion,” the latest episode in Universal’s “American Pie” franchise, is directed by Jon Hurwitz & Hayden Schlossberg (“Harold & Kumar Escape From Guantanamo Bay”). Its ensemble cast includes Jason Biggs, Seann William Scott, Eugene Levy, Jennifer Coolidge, Chris Klein, Thomas Ian Nicholas, Tara Reid, Mena Suvari and Alyson Hannigan.

As you’d expect, “Reunion’s” tracking best with under-25 males. It’s the fourth in the series that began in 1999. Between them, “American Pie,” “American Pie 2” (2001) and “American Wedding” (2003) have grossed $352.2 million in domestic theatres. Although it’s about nine years since “Wedding” waltzed down theatre aisles, today’s under-25 males know the franchise thanks to DVD rentals, cable TV and digital downloads.

Friday the 13th of April is what Lionsgate and MGM hope will be a lucky day for their much anticipated R rated horror comedy thriller “The Cabin in the Woods.” Produced by Joss Whedon (“Buffy the Vampire Killer” and the upcoming “The Avengers”) and directed by Drew Goddard (feature directing debut), it stars Richard Jenkins, Bradley Whitford and Chris Hemsworth.

“Cabin,” written by Whedon and Goddard, is about five city teens hoping to enjoy a quiet weekend in the forest that turns out to be anything but peaceful when they discover something truly horrific that you don’t want to know about before seeing the movie. No spoilers here — ever!

It’s still early in terms of tracking for Apr. 13, but at this point “Cabin’s” numbers are spread evenly across the demographic board. Typically, horror films track best with under-25 females. If this one connects with a broader demo, it could really have something to celebrate.

20th Century Fox’s comedy “The Three Stooges” is also launching Apr. 13. Directed by Peter and Bobby Farrelly (“There’s Something About Mary”), it stars Sean Hayes, Chris Diamantopoulos and Will Sasso.

The stooges — Moe, Larry and Curly — date back to the 1930s when they were played by Moe Howard, Larry Fine and Curly Howard, but their intensely physical humor still gets big laughs today. With its PG rating, “Stooges” is family friendly — that’s definitely a change of pace for the Farrelly Brothers — and that never hurts at the boxoffice. It’s tracking best early on with 25-plus males and next best with under-25 males.

Rounding out Apr. 13’s wide releases is Open Road Films’ PG-13 sci-fi fantasy adventure “Lockout.” Set in the near future, it’s James Mather & Stephen Saint Leger’s feature directing debut. Starring are Guy Pearce, Maggie Grace and Peter Stormare.

In “Lockout” a wrongly convicted spy gets a chance for freedom by undertaking a perilous mission to rescue the president’s daughter from an outer space prison. As you’d expect with a sci-fi thriller, “Lockout’s” strongest tracking is with 25-plus males.

Apr. 20 will also see a trio of new wide releases fighting for moviegoers’ time and money. Disney’s G rated documentary “Chimpanzee” is directed by Alastair Fothergill (“African Cats”) & Mark Linfield (“Earth”) and narrated by Tim Allen. It focuses on a three year old chimp who’s separated from his group and then adopted by an adult male chimpanzee. The film’s tracking best with 25-plus human males.

Warner Bros. and Village Roadshow Pictures’ PG-13 romantic drama “The Lucky One” is directed by Scott Hicks (“Shine”) and stars Zac Efron and Taylor Schilling. It’s based on Nicolas Sparks’ novel about a marine who after three tours of duty in Iraq visits North Carolina to find an unknown woman whose photo he found during the war and began carrying around as a good luck charm.

Not surprisingly for a romantic drama, “Lucky’s” tracking best with under-25 females and next best with 25-plus females.

Screen Gems’ romantic comedy “Think Like a Man” is directed by Tim Story (“Barbershop”) and stars Michael Ealy, Jerry Ferrara and Megan Good. Based on Steve Harvey’s book “Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man,” it’s about four guys turning the tables on their ladies after learning they’re using expert relationship advice against them. “Think’s” tracking best with 25-plus females.

Apr. 27 will see four wide releases vying for attention at the multiplexes. These aren’t covered yet on the tracking, but could certainly help end the month with a boxoffice bang.

Universal’s R rated romantic comedy “The Five Year Engagement,” directed by Nicholas Stoller (“Get Him to the Greek”) and starring Jason Segel and Emily Blunt, follows five years of a couple’s engagement ups and downs.

“Pirates! Band of Misfits” from Columbia and Sony Pictures Animation is a 3D animated family film based on the book series by Gideon Defoe. Directed by Peter Lord (“Chicken Run”) and written by Defoe, it features such voice talents as Hugh Grant, David Tennant and Salma Hayek. Its story revolves around a group of happy but hapless pirates trying to capture the Pirate of the Year trophy.

Relativity Media’s R rated thriller “The Raven” is directed by James McTeigue (“Ninja Assassin”) and stars John Cusack, Luke Evans and Alice Eve. Cusack as author/poet Edgar Allen Poe teams up with a detective (Evans) to hunt down a serial killer using Poe’s works to inspire his horrific murders.

Lionsgate’s R rated suspense thriller “Safe” is written and directed by Boaz Yakin (“Death in Love”) and stars Jason Statham and Catherine Chan. Statham plays an ex-elite agent who rescues a 12 year old Chinese girl kidnapped by the Triads and must then use knowing a safe’s combination to outwit the Russian mafia.

Bottom line:The boxoffice is already running about 20 percent ahead of where it was this time last year. With a little luck, by the end of April ticket sales will be even higher as we greet the typically strong pre-summer weeks of May.