Jessica Chastain ruled the box office over Martin Luther King, Jr. weekend with Mama and Zero Dark Thirty. Meanwhile, Silver Linings Playbook expanded to over 2,500 locations and had its best weekend yet, and stars Mark Wahlberg and Arnold Schwarzenegger headlined bombs Broken City and The Last Stand.
Mama drastically exceeded expectations with an estimated $28.5 million three-day debut ($33.04 million four-day). While the supernatural horror genre is pretty reliable, this is an unusually high opening for an entry that doesn't utilize found footage; in fact, it's the genre's top non-found-footage debut since 2005's The Exorcism of Emily Rose ($30.1 million). Also, in just three days it earned more than producer Guillermo del Toro's last movie Don't Be Afraid of the Dark earned in its entire run ($24 million).
Aside from the advantages inherent to the genre, Mama also benefited from a strong marketing effort and a PG-13 rating that managed to attract younger females in strong numbers: Mama's audience was 61 percent female and 63 percent under the age of 25. They awarded it a "B-" CinemaScore, which is slightly above-average for a horror movie.
In second place, Zero Dark Thirty fell 35 percent to $15.8 million ($18.7 million four-day). That second weekend hold is stronger than Black Hawk Down's 41 percent drop, and Zero Dark Thirty's $57 million total is close to Black Hawk Down's $60.2 million through the same point.
After two months in limited and moderate release, Silver Linings Playbook expanded to 2,523 theaters and earned an estimated $10.8 million ($13 million four-day). The Weinstein Company originally had Silver Linings slated for a nationwide debut over Thanksgiving weekend, but at the last minute they pulled back on that when the marketing effort wasn't connecting. Now, with two months of strong word-of-mouth, a boatload of Oscar nominations, and a cast that's completely free to do press, this turned out to be an ideal time to push the movie out in to a very wide release. Through Monday, Silver Linings has earned $57 million, and with good holds the movie has a chance of ultimately getting to $100 million.
Gangster Squad fell 49 percent to an estimated $8.69 million ($10.3 million four-day). Through 11 days, the movie has grossed $33.4 million.
Broken City rounded out the Top Five with $8.3 million, which is just 34 percent of what star Mark Wahlberg's Contraband opened to on the same weekend last year. The difference between this year and last year is simple: Contraband looked like an intense, action-packed movie, while Broken City looked like a bore. The movie received a "B" CinemaScore, and will likely fade from theaters quickly.
For the four-day weekend, Broken City earned $9.5 million, which actually ranks sixth behind A Haunted House ($9.7 million). The Marlon Wayans spoof movie has earned $31.3 million so far.
Django Unchained and Les Miserables continued their strong runs this weekend; Django is now the highest-grossing Weinstein Company movie ever with $139.4 million, while Les Miserables ($131.8 million) is a week away from passing director Tom Hooper's The King's Speech ($138.8 million).
The Last Stand wound up in ninth place for the three-day weekend with $6.2 million (10th place for the four-day with $7.3 million). This was supposed to be star Arnold Schwarzenegger's big comeback movie, but it earned less than half as much as Schwarzenegger's 2000 disappointment The 6th Day ($13.02 million).
Similar to Broken City, The Last Stand just never looked all that appealing; still, one has to wonder if Schwarzenegger really has any drawing power whatsoever after his rocky stint as governor and the recent revelation that he fathered a child with one of his maids. He is at least getting a few more shots—The Tomb (Sept. 27) and Ten (Jan. 24, 2014) are in the can already—but it's likely that studios will now be more hesitant about investing big bucks in the 65-year-old actor.
On Monday Life of Pi is expected to pass $100 million, which makes it the fifth 2012 Best Picture nominee to reach that level. Theoretically, Zero Dark Thirty and Silver Linings Playbook could both make it there as well, meaning there will be a record seven Best Picture nominees with over $100 million at the domestic box office this year.