Weekend Box Office: Zero Dark Thirty attaches electrodes to America's scrotum
With the Christmas season clogging up with awards contenders, Sony made the risky decision of holding Zero Dark Thirty in limited release before bringing it out wide in mid-January, when fewer people are going to the movies. There was always a chance that the controversy over the film’s torture scenes could stifle it commercially or that the conversation might have simply played itself out, but it turned out to be a wise move. With mediocre “dumping ground” competition, Zero Dark Thirty easily claimed first place with $24 million, which is $7 million more than director Kathryn Bigelow’s previous film, the Oscar-winning The Hurt Locker, made in its entire theatrical run. (The fact that a film of its scale only cost $40 million suggests that most Hollywood productions are either shockingly wasteful or complex embezzlement schemes.) But sadly enough for humanity, A Haunted House, the latest Scary Movie-style spoof from Marlon Wayans, was the bigger success against its budget, taking second with $18.8 million on a $2.5 million budget. Meanwhile, the feeble Untouchables knockoff Gangster Squad, finally reaching theaters after delays and reshoots, banked a mediocre $16.7 million for third.
In limited release, the post-nominations Oscar bump gave several movies a solid increase of their previous weekend haul: Lincoln (+16.6%), Silver Linings Playbook (+38.2%), Argo (+57.1%), and Amour (+352%, which is mostly explained by going from three to 15 screens) all made the case that the Oscars are about business, and not entirely a horrifying show-biz circle jerk. Be inspired.
For more detailed numbers, visit Box Office Mojo.