Los Angeles - Movie fans have chosen real violence over the slapstick variety as The Hunger Games held off The Three Stooges to remain the No. 1 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 $21.5m. That raises the film's domestic total to $337.1m.
"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 $17.1m, according to studio estimates on Sunday.
That was well above industry expectations of around $10m for the 20th Century Fox update starring Chris Diamantopoulos as Moe, Sean Hayes as Larry and Will Sasso as Curly.
Fox executives had figured the movie would appeal mainly to young males. But it also pulled in older men who grew up on the Stooges and a fair number of women and girls as whole families turned out to see it, said Chris Aronson, the studio's head of distribution.
"If you're predisposed to open your mind, it's a laugh riot," Aronson said.