This weekend a film that’s been sitting in a can for nearly three years goes up against a reboot of a franchise spawned in the 1920′s, only to have to face deadly Hunger Games competition. Yes, we are in April, and yes, the system is winding down after a record-setting March to deliver odd films that the system never figured out how to sell.

Cabin in the Woods was originally owned by MGM, which went into bankruptcy while the film was in post-production. Its slate of films like Hot Tub Time Machine had not produced the success needed to keep the company afloat, and with the bottom out of the DVD and Blu-ray market its catalog no longer provided the insurance the studio needed. It also didn’t have a James Bond film in their pocket – Skyfall was still in development, so they couldn’t scrape together the money needed to release either Cabin or Red Dawn.

Lionsgate eventually came in to pick  up Cabin, which then offered its own minefields. The film has been well received by critics, but part of the fun of the movie is not knowing exactly what it is, and so critics have been stuck trying to talk about a film they don’t want to talk about. Which makes the film impossible to market. Lionsgate has done as well as they could in this regard, but if a film is neither fish nor fowl then they can’t sell it as one or the other. And for what looks to be a scary movie, the problem is that word is it doesn’t function as a horror film. It’s not scary. Perhaps they get it open and word of mouth works, but it could be the film that everyone recognizes as a classic in 2015, but bombed all to heck in 2012. Maybe it gets into the mid-teens, gross-wise.

The Three Stooges is a passion-project for The Farrelly brothers. Which is weird in and of itself, but the cultural weight of these characters seems to have passed. Yes they’re still on TV, but a generation of kids raised on re-runs are now parents, and so it would be required of them to take their children to watch grown men hit each other. Twenty years ago the Home Alone films did a good job of selling these sorts of hijinks to children, but this…

April is usually the time where the studios take a breather and dump stuff they don’t know how to sell, or are cheap. The releasing company Open Road has Lockout, which is one of those films that if it worked, it wouldn’t be coming out right now. It’s going to be slow going for another two weeks, and then… summer starts with The Avengers, which all word suggests is a big winner, and is already tracking to do over $125 Million. And then we’ll face a glut of big dumb action for months. Summer is here (Mr. Burton).

So, numbers:

  1. The Hunger Games – $19 Million
  2. The Three Stooges – $13.5 Million
  3. American Reunion – $10.7 Million
  4. Cabin in the Woods – $10.5 Million
  5. Lockout – $8.8 Million

Cabin could do better than I predicted. But it’s going to hinge on how well it opens on Friday.

What are you going to see this weekend?