Box Office Report: "Zero Dark Thirty" On Top Of "A Haunted House" And "Gangster Squad" With Nationwide Expansion

Though Kathryn Bigelow's "Zero Dark Thirty" has been making its way around select theaters for weeks now, this was the first that saw the film receive an nationwide expansion. Great timing for the film, as just last week it was nominated for a total of five Academy Awards, including that of Best Picture. The film has sparked a myriad of controversies its release, with most of them circling around the torture depictions in the film. I will not feed into the arguments one way or the other in this post, but I will say that I think the studio knew exactly what they were doing here; whichever side of the fence you fell on, most people wanted to get a look for themselves just to see what all the fuss was about.

The film out-grossed new releases this week "A Haunted House" and "Gangster Squad". This wasn't a complete surprise given we're in the first weeks of the new year, where studios generally like to dump their flops. Both seem to have their audiences, but neither reviewed well at all, surely leading to a few less bucks at the ticket booth.

"Texas Chainsaw 3D" saw the biggest drop of any film in the top fifteen this week, though that doesn't surprise me one bit. "Lincoln", on the other hand, in its tenth week, finished inside the top ten and actually saw its numbers increase from last weekend. Is that film ever going to stop?

Let's start with "Zero Dark Thirty". The film amassed $24MM in officially its fourth weekend of release. Having only appeared in a handful of theaters before this, however, its total domestic gross currently only sits at $29.4MM. Surprisingly to me, this film has actually managed a small bit internationally as well (it just kind of feels like a film that most foreign countries aren't really gonna get behind), compiling $3MM so far. Currently sitting at $32.5MM worldwide, the film still has a few million or so to go to hit its $40MM budget, though getting to that number won't
 be a problem at all, as I expect more to chime in this week on the torture debate, only fueling the fire of people feeling they need to go see the film.

In second was the new release, "A Haunted House". The Scary Movie-esque horror spoof earned $18.8MM this weekend, already destroying its minuscule budget of $2.5MM. This is how these types of films are made; they cram as many B-actors into a film that takes no money to make, rack up some dough in its opening weekend, and already they have enough to pay for the next five pieces of crap to churn out in a similar manner. The film has compiled a 10% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, which is even worse than what some of us projected for this film (the hope was with Marlon Wayans back at the reigns, some actual creativity might come of of this). The money the film made this weekend only guarantees that these types of films aren't going anywhere for a while.

For what it's worth, this is the tenth-best opening for a spoof movie ever, not accounting for inflation, of course. Per that link though, can only else believe that "Scary Movie 3" once opened with a $48MM weekend? That's astounding! Regardless of if this film ever makes another dime, the studio already got what they needed.

In third this week was our other new release, "Gangster Squad". The film finished just behind "A Haunted House" with $16.7MM. No budget was listed for the film, but $16MM seems like a decent start. I actually checked this one out this week, and even though it's reviewed to a 34% on Rotten Tomatoes, I found quite a bit of entertainment in it. I will discuss it in more detail on this week's CinemaCast, but overall, I felt like the film was much better than the reviews it's received. This one isn't going to finish near the top of any box office lists this year, but it does currently have the fourth-highest opening for a crime film depicting true events. Only "American Gangster", "Catch Me If You Can", and "Public Enemies" opened better. All three went on to gross at least $95MM.

Two films that first opened on Christmas day make up the films in the fourth and fifth spots this week, "Django Unchained" and "Les Miserables". Django managed $11MM this weekend, while Les Mis earned $10.1MM. Both films should continue to do well over the coming weeks, as they too both received Academy Award nominations for that of Best Picture. Django picked up a total of five nominations, while Les Mis received eight.

Due to Django's graphic nature, I've been very surprised that the film has kept ahead of Les Mis all these weeks now. It's been pretty neck-and-neck for most days/weekends since their release, but so far, Django has amassed $125MM, while Les Mis has only made $119MM. The big difference here, however: "Django Unchained" has made zero dollars internationally, while "Les Miserables" has doubled its money, accumulating $119MM more overseas.

With its gross this weekend, "Django Unchained" surpassed "Inglourious Basterds" and became director Quentin Tarantino's highest grossing film ever. "Les Miserables", on the other hand, is now the fifth-highest grossing live-action musical of all-time. It has a chance to eventually top this list.

Outside of the top five, "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey" has now made $840MM worldwide. "Lincoln" and "Silver Linings Playbook", both in the top ten and both Academy Award nominees for Best Picture, were the only films in the top fifteen outside of ZD30 to see an increase in their box office dollars from last weekend. While it may not be able to say so much longer due to "Django Unchained", currently, "Lincoln" is the highest-grossing Best Picture nominee this year (out of nine films). It passed the $150MM mark with its gross this weekend.

Not much else I see this weekend. Expect each of the Best Picture nominees to do well for the next few weeks or so, but most of the other titles in the top fifteen should fall out of focus very soon. Outside of awards-nominated films, January is traditionally a fairly weak time of year at the box office, so we can expect bigger drops over the coming weeks.

Here is the full breakdown this weekend, courtesy of Box Office Mojo: