Weekend Wrap Up: Americans Rally around “Zero Dark Thirty”

Despite a little controversy over the snub of director Kathryn Bigelow for an Oscar nomination, the anticipated wide release of Zero Dark Thirty finally arrived, perfectly timed to coincide with Oscar season after a few very good weeks in limited release. Two new releases also hit theatres this weekend, thought the stories for those two are pretty far apart.

Zero Dark Thirty

Zero Dark Thirty opened (well, expanded into wide release, to be more exact) to a strong $24 million for a solid $8,172 per theatre average. Despite the best director snub (which, after seeing the film on Friday, I find downright absurd), the film still picked up five Oscar nods, including the all important Best Picture. Add in its three weeks of limited release and we’ve got a total of $29.5 million. Depending on how audiences respond, and if it does pick some major Oscar hardware, $100 million isn’t out of the question. But with the R-rating and the torture scenes, I just don’t know how much it can appeal to mainstream audiences. Next weekend’s drop will tell us a lot.

While the big story this weekend was Zero Dark Thirty, perhaps the biggest surprise is the very strong debut of A Haunted House. Looking a bit better than Seltzer and Friedberg flicks, this somehow opened to $18.8 million. It doesn’t really look funny, but I think people just wanted to see recent horror movies get the spoof they deserve. I doubt this is actually the spoof they deserve (just check out that 9 percent at Rotten Tomatoes), but it’s the one they need right now (it’s just too damn easy to slip in that The Dark Knight quote). Furthermore, and I have nothing statistical to back this up–only personal experience–but I think movies of this ilk skew toward black movie-goers, and especially with the presence Marlon Wayans, this provided one of the few movies to appeal to that demographic lately.

Opening in third, Gangster Squad opened to an okay $16.7 million. Given the impressively talented cast here, I’m shocked this only managed 34% at Rotten Tomatoes. I couldn’t find out what the budget was here, but I’m sure it’s a hell of a lot more than the paltry $2.5 million of A Haunted House. This was originally scheduled for an October release before getting rescheduled after the shootings in Newtown. It’s possible that it would’ve done better back in October, since January is routinely one of the worst box office months of the year.

Django Unchained finished in fourth, pulling in $11.1 million. It now stands at $125.4 million. However, it dropped 45%, which I find odd considering it got multiple Oscar nominations, including Best Picture. And it’s not like it lost any theatres. In fact, it added two. Its Christmas Day stablemate, Les Miserables, however, seemed to benefit quite a bit more from Oscar buzz, as it slid a better 37% to $10.1 million. Django still has the overall lead, though, as Les Mis has amassed $119.2 million so far.

All three Lord of the Rings films were nominated for multiple Oscars, including Best Picture, which Return of the King won. The Hobbit did get nominated for three, but never really had a chance at Best Picture. So, understandably, it fell 48% to $9.1 million. With $278 million in the bank, it’s possible it might limp to $300 million, but I think it will fall a bit short. It feels odd to call almost $300 million disappointing, but, well, it is. I now worry about the prospects of the second two films in the trilogy.

Benefiting the most from the Oscar nominations, Lincoln moves up one spot and increases 17%. It’s now been in the top ten for an incredible ten weeks and could have several more by the time it’s done. The drama pulled in $6.3 million to lifts its incredible total to $153 million. A lot more could be on the way, especially if it cleans up at the Academy Awards.

Parental Guidance dropped 37% to $6.1 million for a total of $60.7 million. I just don’t care.

Maybe you’ve noticed we still haven’t gotten to the number one film from last weekend. Well, Texas Chainsaw fell all the way from first to ninth. It collapsed a dubiously impressive 76.3%, which is good for the 20th biggest second weekend drop. Ever. Good work. Anyway, it made just $5.15 million this weekend, now has a total of $30.8 million and should be forgotten by next weekend.

The Silver Linings Playbook continues to hang around, every so often just dipping its feet into the top ten. It’s got a major expansion coming next weekend, so couple that with the impressive number of Oscar nods (eight) it garnered and it might finally gain enough traction to crack the upper half of the top ten. I hope so, since it was a very good film and proved that romantic comedies don’t always have to be terrible. Anyway, the Bradley Cooper flick pulled in an even $5 million. It increased a very impressive 38%, especially considering it didn’t really add that many theatres. For all you guys out there, if your girlfriend is trying to drag you to see this, give it a chance. You’ll be surprised.

Okay, that about does it. A really solid weekend all around, with lots of Oscar buzz to boot. Next weekend brings us three new flicks, none of which look particularly like break out hits, so it’s entirely conceivable Zero Dark Thirty could repeat, especially if it holds well.

Broken City: Mark Wahlberg and particularly Russell Crowe are hit-and-miss, but this one definitely looks like it has potential. Even still, neither of them are really draws in and of themselves anymore, so I’ll say about $15 million.

The Last Stand: Well, welcome back Ahnuld. At least this flick seems slightly self-aware; that’s always a plus. I cannot see much of an audience here, sadly. I’ll say $7 million.

Mama: Honestly, I don’t think this looks terribly scary. Certain parts of the trailer just seemed more like narm to me. But, whatever. Guillermo Del Toro already delved into horror with Don’t be Afraid of the Dark, which opened to $8 million, so I’ll say this will open to exactly the same. With that, I’m all done. Peace out, everybody.

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