It has been nearly a decade since the gang from "American Pie" last grossed out moviegoers, but Universal is betting that there's still enough gas left in the yuks and cleavage franchise to hold off the 3D re-release of "Titanic" and "The Hunger Games" box-office phenomenon.
"American Reunion," the fourth big-screen release in a series that also spawned a slew of direct-to-DVD titles, is on pace to earn as much as $30 million domestically in 3,192 theaters, according to box-office analysts.
Universal is being more conservative and anticipating a number in the $20 million range.
Analysts say the holiday weekend is shaping up to be a tight race for the box office crown. "American Reunion's" haul might not be enough to topple "The Hunger Games," but it should be sufficient to snag the No. 2 spot from "Titanic."
In its third week of release, "The Hunger Games" is on pace to add roughly $30 million to its tally from 4,137 domestic locations. The film's domestic total now stands at nearly $260 million with an additional $115 million coming in from foreign territories, according to Box Office Mojo.
Even if "American Reunion" does not dethrone "Hunger Games," it seems poised to turn a profit on the $50 million Universal spent getting the original cast back together. Reviews of the film, which features the sex-crazed protagonists attending their 10-year high school reunion, have been mixed, but the studio thinks it has recaptured the flavor that made the first film a surprise smash way back in 1999.
"Audiences have enormous affection for the movies and having all of the cast back together again does add a little bit of spice to it," Nikki Rocco, Universal's chief of distribution, told TheWrap.
In addition to the domestic launch this weekend, Universal will release "American Reunion" in 26 international territories including Australia, Russia and Mexico.
"American Reunion" is not the only blast from the past hoping to capitalize on moviegoers' nostalgia. It has been 15 years since James Cameron's "Titanic" crashed into theaters, shattering box-office records and earning 11 Oscars to boot, and now the historical sudser is back in theaters thanks to 3D technology.
Cameron and his producing partner, Jon Landau, labored for more than a year converting the tragic love story to 3D, spending approximately $18 million for the overhaul.
The movie debuted Wednesday to $4.7 million and should net $30 million over its first five days of release, including $20 million over the weekend, analysts tell TheWrap.
Paramount is releasing the film domestically, where it is showing in roughly 2,600 theaters domestically.
"'Titanic' is performing softer than some people expected it would, but that's a really good number for a film that is 15 years old," Jeff Bock, a box-office analyst at Exhibitor Relations, told TheWrap.
"Studios will take that kind of gross all day long, so we'll be seeing a lot more 3D re-releases."
In their second weeks of release, box office analysts project steep drop-offs for Warner Bros. sword-and-sandals sequel "Wrath of the Titans" and Relativity's Snow White re-imagining "Mirror, Mirror."
"Wrath" brought in $34.2 million last weekend and "Mirror, Mirror" took in a disappointing $19 million. Analysts say that those numbers will likely be cut in half over a crowded holiday weekend that will see the box office pie primarily carved up between "Titanic," "American Reunion" and "The Hunger Games."