Weekend Box Office (January 4 - 6, 2013)
THIS WEEKEND A new year kicks off with a 3D horror remake and some specialty films expanding nationwide hoping for wider acceptance. Lionsgate opens its fright flick Texas Chainsaw 3D aiming for an audience of older teens and young adults as well as genre fans who enjoy seeing classics get reimagined. The R-rated film is the latest in a long line of horror titles that have picked the beginning of January as a prime time to attack. Fans of the genre are ready for some violence after the prolonged cheery holiday season plus most college students are still out on winter break.
The Leatherface brand is a big one and moviegoers in the recent past have come out in droves for remakes of Friday the 13th, A Nightmare on Elm Street, and Halloween. Chainsaw was remade in 2003 with a followup in 2006 that was not as successful so some fans may think another try is not needed. Plus 3D often repels many ticket buyers who only want to pay extra for a truly amazing pic. Attacking over 2,500 theaters, Texas Chainsaw 3D might take in about $16M this weekend.
Lionsgate will widen its Summit film The Impossible into national play after seeing commendable results in limited release. Last weekend witnessed a $12,172 average which is not bad, however not potent enough to indicate muscular business from a national expansion when averages get diluted down. Reviews have been very good and the Tsunami drama has earned a small amount of awards buzz too, especially for Naomi Watts who has a legitimate shot at scoring an Oscar nomination next week for Best Actress for her role in this film. For this weekend, The Impossible could take in about $5M. Academy Award nominations, though, may ignite more fire starting next weekend.
Focus goes nationwide with its Matt Damon drama Promised Land which stumbled in its limited debut last weekend with a lukewarm $6,957 average from 15 locations over a busy holiday frame. The actor doesn't sell as well in dramas as he does in action plus critics were not giving big recommendations. Add in the fact that it has been nonexistent in the awards chatter and that the marketplace is full of more high-profile specialty titles and it adds up to a troubled weekend ahead. Going very aggressively into about 1,500 locations, Promised Land is hoping to score some points in the heartland but overall may only find itself with about $4M this weekend.
Hoping to do what two chapters in the Lord of the Rings trilogy did, The Hobbit will take a stab at topping the charts for a fourth consecutive weekend as it tries to fight off Leatherface. The Middle Earth extravaganza performed well over the holidays as it watched its cume soar to $239M by the end of New Year's Day. Competition from new films will not be too much of a factor so a 45% drop to $18M could result. That would leave the Warner Bros. smash at $266M after the fourth frame.
Quentin Tarantino's revenge pic Django Unchained has been scoring big points with moviegoers and is poised to join the century club faster than any of the director's past films. A 45% decline may result putting the Weinstein Co. title at about $17M pushing the cume to $101M.
Universal has been raking in big bucks with its own Christmas release Les Miserables which also hopes to leap over the $100M mark this weekend. The blockbuster musical may slide by 40% to roughly $17M as well making for a tight three-way race among holdovers. The cume would vault to $104M.
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LAST YEAR Audiences got bamboozled by the marketing of the horror pic The Devil Inside which debuted to a stellar $33.7M while earning an awful F grade from ticket buyers who were left in the cold by the phony ending. The Paramount release quickly disappeared but not before swiping a potent $53.3M from the box office. Holdovers rounded out the top five with Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol taking in $19.9M and Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows collecting $13.7M. More franchise films followed with $11.4M for The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and $9.5M for Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked.
This column is updated three times each week: Thursday (upcoming weekend's summary), Sunday (post-weekend analysis with estimates), and Monday night (actuals). Opinions expressed in this column are those solely of the author.
Last Updated: January 3, 2013 at 1:00PM ET
Watch Gitesh Pandya's weekly box office preview on CNN International airing live each Thursday at 6:40pm ET.