The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 3D and its star Leatherface massacred the competition at the North American box office this past weekend. The horror sequel pushed three-week champ The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey to third place, while Django Unchained stayed put in second. Elsewhere, Les Miserables reached an impressive milestone for a musical. Overall the top ten was in very good shape for the first weekend of 2013, which is usually a quiet time at the multiplex, and is up 33% over the same weekend last year.
There is apparently no better time to unleash a low-budget horror flick than the first weekend of a new year. Paramount reaped the benefits last year with the terrible micro-budgeted The Devil Inside which earned a huge $35 million. Lionsgate was obviously paying attention to the marketing and response to that film when they penciled in the latest film spawned by the Tobe Hooper original nearly four decades ago. Unless you count The Guilt Trip, there were no outright horror films playing in the market this weekend so genre fans looking to get their gore on poured into 2,654 theaters to help the first wide release of 2013 earn a solid $23 million for a great per-screen average of $8,666. With a deadly “C-” CinemaScore rating, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 3D will no doubt be a distant memory by next Sunday.
After surprising everyone with a knockout first week of business, Quentin Tarantino’s violent R-rated western Django Unchained continued to surprise and impress by having a terrific hold in its second weekend. Staying put in 3,010 theaters, the Jamie Foxx drama was off only 33% in its second full weekend of release. The film earned an estimated $20 million to bring its total to a great $106 million. Word-of-mouth has been strong so the long-term prospects for Django should be just fine in the weeks leading up to Oscar time.
After three weeks at the top of the box office and the holidays come and gone, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey began to cool off a bit in its fourth round of adventures. The film suffered the steepest drop of any film in the top ten (45%) and also lost the biggest amount of screens (345) as well. The 3,755 screens that the film held on to contributed an estimated $17.5 million to the domestic haul, which now stands at $263.8 million. Combine that total with the $561 million collected overseas so far, and Warner Brothers is looking at a massive $824.4 million in overall ticket sales and counting.
Hanging tough in fourth place in its second full weekend of release was the Universal hit Les Miserables. The musical eased 41% from its holiday weekend earnings to bellow out $16.1 million from 2,904 theaters. To date, the Tom Hooper-directed feature has earned a great $103.6 million domestically, doing so in less time than any previous musical released.
Benefiting from being the only family comedy on the market was Fox’s Parental Guidance, which eased a mere 30% to earn an estimated $10.1 million from 3,368 theaters. Since opening on Christmas Day, the Bette Midler/Billy Crystal laffer has earned a solid $52.7 million and could finish its run near the $80 million mark.
Aside from the return of Leatherface, the only new wide opening was Focus Features’ Matt Damon drama Promised Land which landed with a thud in tenth place.The movie opened the week before in limited release to earn an okay $174,000 from 25 theaters. This weekend, the Gus Van Sant drama expanded to 1,676 to earn a rather flat $4.3 million and a dry per-screen average of $2,573.
In advance of its nationwide launch this upcoming Friday, Sony’s drama Zero Dark Thirty expanded from five to sixty theaters in its third weekend and saw fantastic results. The movie earned a huge $2.75 million from that small theater count for an excellent per-screen average of $45,833. To date, the controversial Kathryn Bigelow feature has earned $4.46 million and should have a big wide release debut on 2,500 screens starting on January 11th. A ton of Oscar nominations should give it some extra oomph as well.
The remainder of the top ten is as follows:
6. Jack Reacher (Paramount) $9.3 million (-30%) $64.8 million
7. This is 40 (Universal) $8.55 million (-31%) $54.4 million
8. Lincoln (Dreamworks) $5.25 million (-28%) $143.9 million
9. The Guilt Trip (Paramount) $4.53 (-30%) $31.2 million
In addition to the expansion of critically acclaimed Zero Dark Thirty, next Friday will see the arrival of Warner’s delayed cops and robbers gangster drama and best bet to topple Leatherface, The Gangster Squad, and the Marlon Wayans horror genre spoof A Haunted House.
– Shawn Fitzgerald