Jessica Chastain Beats Up Arnold and Marky Mark to Rule Weekend Box Office

January 20, 2013

Jessica Chastain Beats Up Arnold and Marky Mark to Rule Weekend Box OfficeGolden Globe-winner Jessica Chastain scored the two top spots at the North American box office this weekend as her new film Mama debuted with strong numbers while Zero Dark Thirty had a strong second round of wide release. The Mark Wahlberg drama Broken City and Arnold Schwarzenegger's The Last Stand weren't as lucky in their debuts. The Martin Luther King Jr. weekend box office for 2013 was up 6% over last year's holiday haul.

Executive-produced by Guillermo del Toro, the low-budget horror film Mama arrived on 2,647 screens to earn a great $28.1 million and an excellent per-screen average of $10,624. Directed by Andres Muschietti, the PG-13 suspense thriller scored decent notices from the nations' critics (63% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes) but scored an iffy "B-" from ticket buyers via CinemaScore, which may spell out a quick run at the box office en route to the Blu-ray and DVD afterlife. Despite her recent win for Zero Dark Thirty, the ads for the Universal release didn't mention actress Jessica Chastain much (Guillermo del Toro, on the other hand...). In the end, it wasn't necessary to do so. The creepy ads did the trick instead.

Proving once again that people don't listen to our elected officials or actor David Clennon when it comes to movies, Zero Dark Thirty had a great second week hold as the movie lost a mere 28% of its opening weekend crowd, a sign that word-of-mouth has been strong among ticket buyers. Playing on 2,946 screens, the R-rated terrorism drama earned an estimated $17.6 million to bring its overall total to the $56 million mark. Should feedback continue to be strong amongst adults -and the Academy gives it some Oscar love - Zero Dark Thirty could work its way to the $90-95 million mark or more by the end of its run.

After playing for nearly two months in limited release, the latest attempt by Harvey Weinstein to buy an Oscar, Silver Linings Playbook, finally went wide this weekend to make the most of the film's eight Academy Award nominations. Now playing on 2,523 screens, the Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper dramadey earned a promising $11.3 million to bring its overall total to $55.3 million. The film has had strong holds during its limited run so it will be interesting to see if that translates to the movie's wide release. At the very least, the movie will nab $85-90 million which will match the gross of director David O Russell's last feature The Fighter.

Warner's crime drama Gangster Squad had an okay hold in its second round as the movie dropped 46% from its opening. Still on 3,103 screens, the Sean Penn and Josh Brolin-led ensemble earned an estimated $9.1 million to bring its ten-day total to a so-so $32 million. The movie could make its way to the $50 million mark, which is probably more than the movie would have brought in if it had stuck to its original release month of September.

Mark Wahlberg starred in an action drama called Contraband last year at this time. The movie opened to approximately $22 million en route to a final total around $67 million. One year later Wahlberg is starring in another drama, the thriller Broken City. While both films shared the same level of critical drubbing, City will not reach the same financial heights as Contraband. The film, co-starring Russell Crowe and Catherine Zeta-Jones, opened on 2,620 screens and proceeded to tank right out of the gate with an anemic $9 million in its first three days. Should audiences continue to show apathy toward this film, Broken City will be lucky enough to make it to the opening weekend figures of Contraband.

The third wide opener of the weekend was one that was expected to do relatively well: the Arnold Schwarzenegger vehicle The Last Stand. Pegged as Arnie's return to the big screen in a leading role after a decade-long absence, Lionsgate gave the R-rated action flick a relatively aggressive marketing push. All that was for naught though as audiences could have cared less (perhaps they should have cast Jessica Chastain). Arriving on 2,913 screens, The Last Stand grossed a pathetic $6.3 million to land in tenth place.

The remainder of the top ten was as follows:

6. A Haunted House (Open Road) $8.3 million (-54%); $30 million to date

7. Django Unchained (Weinstein Company) $8.243 million (-25%); $138.3 million

8. Les Miserables (Universal) $7.8 million (-19%); $132.1 million

9. The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (Warner Brothers) $6.4 million (-30%) $287.3 million

Next weekend Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters, Movie 43 and the Jason Statham action flick Parker will take on Mama for the top spot.

- Shawn Fitzgerald