Sony's Zero Dark Thirty led the way this weekend with $24.44 million in its first weekend of wide release. The Kathryn Bigelow directed Best Picture nominee opened in line with expectations, which were heightened on the heels of the film's strong three-week platform run. Compared to previous January expansions in similar situations, Zero Dark Thirty performed 26 percent stronger than the $19.39 million take of The Bucket List in 2008 and 15 percent softer than the $28.61 million take of Black Hawk Dawn back in 2002. Zero Dark Thirty performed nearly on par with the $24.48 million opening weekend performance of Act of Valor in February of last year. With the addition of its three-week platform run, Zero Dark Thirty has grossed $29.92 million to date.
After grossing $9.03 million on Friday, Zero Dark Thirty registered a weekend to Friday ratio of 2.71 to 1. While that could be an early sign of relative front-loading, the film also earned a very solid A- rating on CinemaScore and will still have a solid chance of holding up well going forward with the continued aid of its Best Picture nomination. The audience breakdown for Zero Dark Thirty skewed towards male moviegoers (59 percent) and moviegoers over the age of 30 (62 percent).
Open Road's A Haunted House debuted in second place with $18.10 million. The low-budget R-rated horror comedy starring Marlon Wayans opened on the high end of expectations and performed quite well with its limited cost in mind. Playing in a relatively modest 2,160 locations, A Haunted House earned a healthy per-location average of $8,380 this weekend (which was a tad stronger than the $8,321 per-location average of Zero Dark Thirty). A Haunted House opened in the same neighborhood as semi-recent January spoofs Epic Movie ($18.61 million in 2007) and Meet the Spartans ($18.51 million in 2008). After opening with $6.79 million on Friday, A Haunted House went on to generate an opening weekend to Friday ratio of 2.67 to 1. That is a strong sign that the film is performing much more like a comedy than it is a horror film, which would be good for the film's holding power going forward. A Haunted House registered a B- rating on CinemaScore.
Warner's Gangster Squad had to settle for third place this weekend with $17.07 million. The crime film featuring Ryan Gosling, Sean Penn and Emma Stone was off to a solid $6.71 million start on Friday, but only registered an opening weekend ratio of 2.54 to 1 after experiencing a troubling and somewhat surprising 7 percent daily decline on Saturday. While Gangster Squad only opened a tad below pre-release expectations, the film's early front-loading isn't a good sign going forward. Despite the early front-loading, the film did earn a respectable B+ rating on CinemaScore. The opening weekend audience for Gangster Squad was evenly split between genders and skewed towards moviegoers under the age of 35 (58 percent). Gangster Squad opened 9 percent softer than the $18.78 million start of last year's Red Tails.
Internationally, Gangster Squad grossed $9.3 million from 19 foreign markets this weekend. Key debuts included $3.4 million in the United Kingdom and $2.4 million in Australia.
With this weekend's three wide releases grossing nearly $60 million between them, post-Oscar holds for Best Picture nominees Django Unchained and Les Misérables were clearly muted this weekend. The Weinstein Company's Django Unchained was hit especially hard by the new competition as it fell 45 percent to finish in fourth with an $11.04 million. Universal's Les Misérables grossed $9.64 million, which represented a softer 40 percent decline and placed the musical in fifth for the frame. Respective 20-day grosses for the Christmas Day releases stand at $125.37 million for Django Unchained and at $118.72 million for Les Misérables, giving Django Unchained a $6.65 million lead in the race for domestic bragging rights between the two films.
Les Misérables remained strong internationally this weekend, as it grossed $25.5 million from 22 foreign territories. The film's international performance this weekend was driven by its $13.1 million debut in the United Kingdom. Les Misérables has grossed $115.1 million to date internationally and $233.9 million worldwide.
Back on the domestic front, Best Picture nominees further down on this weekend's chart experienced impressive percentage holds. Lincoln was up 17 percent to gross an $6.34 million, Silver Linings Playbook was up 39 percent to gross $5.02 million, Life of Pi fell 4 percent to gross $2.70 million, Argo increased 59 percent to take in $1.26 million and Amour was up 330 percent (after expanding into an additional 12 locations) to gross $0.26 million. Respective total grosses stand at $152.60 million for Lincoln, $111.66 million for Argo, $94.80 million for Life of Pi, $41.32 million for Silver Linings Playbook (which will finally expand into wide release this coming weekend) and at $0.64 million for Amour.
Meanwhile, Warner's The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey took sixth place this weekend with $9.17 million. The Peter Jackson directed fantasy blockbuster was down a sharp 48 percent from last weekend. The Hobbit has grossed $278.21 million in 31 days of release, leaving it $21.79 million away from reaching the $300 million domestic milestone. Internationally, The Hobbit grossed $26.2 million from 63 territories this weekend. That brings the film's international total to $609.3 million and worldwide haul to $887.5 million.