Movies by the Numbers: January 14, 2013

Zero Dark Thirty Movie Poster

Zero Dark Thirty Movie Poster

Zero Dark Thirty fired a warning shot to all of the other Oscar contenders with a $24 million opening in its first weekend of wide release. Katherine Bigelow’s latest film proves that all of the real life controversy has helped to garner a more rabid following. The strong opening weekend was better than both Argo and Lincoln. The decision to push the release date back from December helped Sony’s marketing effort as they took advantage of a usually slow month. Aside from having the time to grow unopposed, the film has seen an unusual amount of coverage given the content and how it may have been acquired. The extra few weeks helped to build up extreme anticipation and so far audiences are certainly interested.

In second place was A Haunted House, the horror movie spoof written by and starring Marlon Wayans. While the film only brought in $18 million, it managed to bring in a higher per-theater average attendance. A Haunted House screened in nearly 800 less theaters than Zero Dark Thirty but still managed a respectable showing. In the end it will most likely finish around $40 million which is par for the course with such films. The audience demographics skewed more ethnic as 48% were African American and 30% were Latino ticket buyers. 

Shockingly, the action period film Gangster Squad bombed at the box office with a $17 million opening. The film seemed to have everything in place to make a good run. The marketing material focused on the star power and every trailer pushed the plot, leaving little room for confusion. Perhaps indie-film darlings Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone have not yet reached the heights of stardom to carry a film on their own. Whatever the reason may be, Gangster Squad appears to be headed toward obscurity. Luckily for them, the budget wasn’t inflated with needless over spending that will keep it possible, however unlikely, for the film to break even.

Finally, Django Unchained finished fourth with an $11 million weekend, securing it as director Quentin Tarantino’s most successful film to date. Having already made $125 million, the film can now focus its marketing dollars on a run at this year’s Oscars. Whether it’s strong enough to topple Lincoln or Zero Dark Thirty still remains to be seen. Either way, Tarantino has seen fantastic numbers since his box office failure with Grindhouse. His last two films have both grossed over $100 million and been well received by critics.

All numbers from Box Office Mojo.