Texas Chainsaw 3D took first place this weekend with a better-than-expected $21.7 million, though Django Unchained wasn't all that far behind. The Top 12 earned $124.1 million over the first weekend of 2013, which is a bit below the same weekend last year. Texas Chainsaw 3D's $21.7 million was between the 2003 remake ($28.1 million) and the 2006 prequel ($18.5 million), though attendance was about in line with the 2006 movie. Compared to past January horror movies, it was well below last year's The Devil Inside ($33.7 million) but was slightly up on past Lionsgate efforts My Bloody Valentine 3-D ($21.2 million) and Hostel ($19.6 million).
More so than any other studio, Lionsgate has consistently been successful at making and marketing low-budget genre fare like Texas Chainsaw 3D. They execute cost-effective advertising that smartly hones in on the prospective audience while ignoring everyone else, and the results generally suggest that this is a worthwhile strategy. It doesn't hurt in this case that Texas Chainsaw is an established brand, and surely fans of the original made up a decent portion of the opening weekend audience.
The movie's grosses were very front-loaded (Friday accounted for 47 percent of the weekend), and it received a weak "C+" CinemaScore; these both suggest that the movie will fizzle quickly, and a final total around $45 million seems likely.
The audience was 52 percent female and 64 percent under 25 year-of-age. Lionsgate is reporting that one in three of those younger attendees stated that a primary reason for their attendance was singer Trey Songz's starring role. Django Unchained eased 34 percent to $20.01 million this weekend. That brings its total to $106.3 million, which means it has already out-grossed last year's The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo ($102.5 million). It's also on pace to pass Inglourious Basterds ($120.5 million) by next weekend. All in, Django is a massive hit already, and with a few Academy Award nominations (definitely a possibility) the movie should wind up with well over $150 million.
In third place, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey fell 45 percent to $17.55 million. Surprisingly, that's better than the fourth weekend of any of the Lord of the Rings movies (Fellowship was tops with $16.2 million). The first of three prequels has so far earned $263.8 million, and $300 million appears to be in range. Les Miserables added $16.02 million in its second weekend, which is off 41 percent. It passed $100 million on Sunday, which is the fastest pace ever for a musical, and its $103.5 million total is higher than the final tally for Dreamgirls ($103.4 million). Parental Guidance dipped a light 33 percent to $9.7 million this weekend. At $52.3 million total so far, the family comedy is on its way to being a nice little hit for 20th Century Fox.
After a middling performance in limited release, Promised Land expanded to 1,676 locations this weekend but could only muster $4.05 million (good for 10th place). While Matt Damon is obviously a star, audiences aren't going to show up for anything he does, especially when the marketing fails to present any semblance of an interesting story. With its "B" CinemaScore, and without any Academy Award nominations (that's an assumption based on its poor reviews and lack of any previous awards recognition), the movie should disappear quickly from theaters.
Expanding to 572 theaters (just shy of a nationwide berth), The Impossible earned $2.76 million. That's not good at all, but the big picture doesn't look so bad on this movie: it's already grossed $67.6 million overseas, and a likely Oscar nomination for Naomi Watts could help attract more attention at the domestic box office.
After playing for two weeks at just five locations, Zero Dark Thirty added 55 more venues (for a total of 60) and grossed $2.7 million. That translates in to a fantastic $44,933 per-theater average. In fact, that's the fifth-highest average ever for a movie in more than 50 theaters behind Paranormal Activity ($49,379 at 160 theaters), Fantasia 2000 (35 mm & IMAX) ($47,957 at 54 locations), The Avengers ($47,698 at 4,359 theaters) and Hannah Montana/Miley Cyrus: Best of Both Worlds Concert Tour ($45,561). Zero Dark Thirty is set to expand to around 2,400 theaters on Friday after presumably scoring a handful of Oscar nominations the day before.
With its expansion in to 565 theaters, Not Fade Away cemented its status as one of the biggest bombs of the season: the movie grossed just $270,088 for a per-theater average of just $478. While that's not on par with The Oogieloves ($206), it's pretty terrible for the feature-length directorial debut of Sopranos creator David Chase.