Hasta la vista, baby.
In a box-office upset, new horror pic Mama — starring Zero Dark Thirty’s Jessica Chastain — is easily winning the long Martin Luther King weekend and badly beating two R-rated films packing plenty of male heat: the Mark Wahlberg–Russell Crowe action-thriller Broken City and Arnold Schwarzenegger‘s The Last Stand.
Mama, from Universal, is projected to top the four-day holiday weekend with a better-than-expected $33.2 million after taking in $28.1 million for the three-day stretch. Studio insiders say the movie clearly is benefiting from its teen-friendly PG-13 rating.
Broken City is expected to gross $10 million for the four-day weekend after a disappointing three-day take of $9 million. The movie, from Emmett/Furla Films and New Regency, earned a B CinemaScore though it received dismal reviews. Broken City all but tied with holdover Gangster Squad for No. 4.
From Lionsgate, Last Stand came in at a lackluster No. 10 after earning $6.3 million for the three-day weekend. The gun-laden action pic, which is expected to gross $7.4 million for the four days, marks Schwarzenegger’s first leading role since 2003 and doesn’t bode well for the actor’s planned return to stardom. Nearly 80 percent of the audience was older than 25.
Chastain has plenty of reason to celebrate: Sony and Annapurna’s Zero Dark Thirty is holding at No. 2 with a three-day gross of $17.6 million and a projected four-day take of $21.4 million, pushing its cume to nearly $60 million. That gives her the top two spots at the domestic box office.
Zero Dark Thirty is among a handful of best picture Oscar contenders enjoying a bump from awards attention. David O. Russell’s Silver Linings Playbook is the weekend’s most noticeable example as it expanded nationwide, grossing $11.4 million to come in No. 3. The film’s total is nearing $60 million.
Silver Linings is expected to take in $14.2 million for the four-day holiday weekend in a win for The Weinstein Co. Many box-office observers had thought Harvey Weinstein made a fatal mistake in deciding not to open the film nationwide in November, opting instead for a limited rollout.
“I never thought we’d come in third place,” said Erik Lomis, president of distribution for The Weinstein Co. “This is a big victory for our strategy and the great word-of-mouth the film is getting. The sky’s the limit.”
Quentin Tarantino’s Django Unchained, another best picture contender, also enjoyed an awards bump as it opened in 54 markets overseas, scoring a stellar $48.1 million despite much of Europe being buried under snow. From The Weinstein Co. and Sony, Django opened at 30 percent of Tarantino’s previous film, 2009’s Inglourious Basterds.
In North America, Mama prospered thanks to young females; women and teenage girls made up 61 percent of the audience, while an impressive 63 percent of the audience was under 25. The horror pic was made for a modest $15 million.
“There’s a void in the marketplace for PG-13 fare,” said Universal president of domestic distribution Nikki Rocco.
Universal also won the MLK weekend last year when Contraband, also starring Wahlberg, opened to $28 million.
Broken City and Last Stand had to compete for older males (78 percent of Broken City’s audience also was over 25).
At the specialty box office, best picture contender Amour continued to overperform, grossing $413,261 from nine theaters for a location average of $11,479.
Here are the full results for the weekend of Jan. 18-20 at domestic box office (* denotes best picture Oscar contender). Final numbers for the four-day holiday weekend will be released Monday.
Title, Weeks in release/theater count, studio, three-day weekend total, cume
1. Mama 1/2,647, Universal, $28.1 million
2. *Zero Dark Thirty, 5/2,946, Sony/Annapurna, $17.6 million, $55.9 million
3. *Silver Linings Playbook, 10/2,523, The Weinstein Co., $11.4 million, $55.3 million
4. Gangster Squad, 2/3,103, Warner Bros., $9.1 million, $32.2 million
5. Broken City, 1/2,620, Fox/New Regency, $9 million
6. A Haunted House, 2/2,160, Open Road Films/IM Global, $8.3 million, $30 million
7. *Django Unchained, 4/3,012, The Weinstein Co., $8.2 million, $138.4 million
8. *Les Miserables, 4/2,579, Universal, $7.8 million, $130.3 million
9. The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, 6/2,323, Warner Bros./New Line, $6.4 million, $287.4 million
10. The Last Stand, 10/2,027, Lionsgate, $6.3 million