Movie fans in the US have chosen real violence over the slapstick variety as The Hunger Games held off The Three Stooges to remain the number one weekend movie.
Lionsgate's The Hunger Games, the blockbuster about teens competing in a televised fight to the death, stayed on top for a fourth-straight weekend with 21.5 million dollars. That raises the film's domestic total to 337.1 million.
"I think a couple of weeks ago, if someone had told us where we'd be, we would have said, 'We'd like to see that number, but it would be a pleasant surprise.' So we're in that pleasant surprise spot at this point," said Richie Fay, head of distribution for Lionsgate.
Peter and Bobby Farrelly's slapstick update The Three Stooges opened in second-place with 17.1 million dollars, according to studio estimates.
That was well above industry expectations of around 10 million dollars for the 20th Century Fox update starring Chris Diamantopoulos as Moe, Sean Hayes as Larry and Will Sasso as Curly.
The acclaimed movie The Cabin In The Woods debuted in third-place with 14.9 million dollars. A smart, twisting take on the genre produced and co-written by Joss Whedon, the long-delayed horror tale had been one of the films caught up in MGM's bankruptcy but was finally released by Lionsgate.
The weekend's other new US wide release, Film District's sci-fi story Lockout, opened at number nine with 6.3 million dollars. The movie stars Guy Pearce trying to quell an uprising at an orbiting space prison.
With no big new debut on the domestic front, the overall box office slipped for only the second weekend this year, according to box-office tracker Hollywood.com.