Weekend Box Office (January 4 - 6, 2013)

by Gitesh Pandya

THIS WEEKEND Just as with last year, 2013 kicked off its first frame with an overperforming horror flick debuting at number one as audiences powered Texas Chainsaw 3D to the top spot. Holiday holdovers fared well with most dropping by about 30% from last weekend's sturdy session.

Lionsgate generated a better-than-expected debut for its fright sequel Texas Chainsaw 3D which bowed to $21.7M from 2,654 locations for a muscular $8,193 average, according to final studio figures. The R-rated film which gives a 3D update to the continuing story of horror icon Leatherface played to a young adult audience which had very little product to be excited about in December. Studio research showed that 64% of the crowd was under 25 and 52% was female.

Chainsaw attracted business from the horror crowd thanks to a well-known brand but also tapped into urban audiences thanks in part to the casting of musical artist Trey Songz who has over 5 million followers on Twitter and 14 million fans on Facebook. He actively promoted the movie to his fans who came out in huge numbers. $1.15M of the weekend gross came from shows starting at 10pm on Thursday night. Moviegoers polled by CinemaScore gave the fright flick a C+ grade.

Early January is a lucrative time for Hollywood to open scary movies. The cheery mood of Christmas is over so fans are ready for some creepy violence plus a large number of college students are still on their winter breaks. The Devil Inside smashed expectations a year ago this weekend with its $33.7M debut at number one while the first weekend of next year has already been claimed by The Amityville Horror: The Lost Tapes launching on January 3, 2014.

Quentin Tarantino's Django Unchained was tops among all holdovers and broke the $100M mark in just its second weekend of play. The R-rated revenge pic declined by only 34% to $20M boosting the 13-day cume since its Christmas Day bow to a sturdy $106.3M. It joined the century club on Saturday in its 12th day of release. With its strong hold and expected Academy Award nominations this week, Django stands a good chance of reaching the $150M barrier and will easily become the director's highest grossing film ever.

Suffering the largest drop of any film in the top ten, three-time box office champ The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey took in $17.5M falling by 45% from last weekend. The Middle Earth adventure has now grossed $263.8M in 24 days and cracked the quarter-billion mark in only 22 days. Warner Bros. still has a shot at reaching $300M on this one. Hobbit raked in another $58.6M overseas this weekend with the international total climbing to $562.8M putting the worldwide haul at a towering $826M.

As former Academy Award host Anne Hathaway prepares her Oscar acceptance speech, her hit musical Les Miserables landed in fourth place in its sophomore frame with $16M with a decent 41% decline. The Universal hit broke the $100M mark after 13 days of release with a cume so far of $103.5M. Cash will keep rolling in over the weeks ahead. On Thursday it will receive many nominations from the Academy which could help broaden appeal and next Sunday it may just sweep the Comedy/Musical category at the Golden Globes which attracts a very large TV viewing audience, especially adult women. Les Miserables grossed an estimated $14.5M overseas from only 17 territories boosting the international total to $81M and the global gross to $184.6M. Korea and Japan lead the way offshore with $28.9M and $25.2M, respectively.

Fox's family comedy Parental Guidance followed in fifth place with $9.7M, off 33%, raising the cume to $52.3M. Enjoying a similar hold was Tom Cruise's action title Jack Reacher which slipped 32% to $9.2M in its third round. Paramount has banked $64.7M to date domestically while 15 new international markets opened this weekend leading to an overseas frame of $22.3M for an international cume of $55.6M and a worldwide tally of $120M.

The Judd Apatow comedy This is 40 placed seventh with $8.4M, down 33%, for a sum of $54.3M thus far. Steven Spielberg's Lincoln spent its eighth straight weekend in the top ten (none at number one) by sliding only 26% to $5.4M for $144.1M to date for Disney. International openings through Fox will begin soon after it secures its boatload of Oscar nominations this week.

Barbra Steisand's road comedy The Guilt Trip followed by dropping 32% to $4.4M giving Paramount $31.1M. The Matt Damon drama Promised Land expanded nationwide after a week in limited release but didn't find many takers with $4M weekend. Focus averaged a weak $2,416 from 1,676 locations and has collected a measly $4.4M to date. Land had no awards buzz, mixed reviews from critics, heavy competition, and featured a big action star that does not sell well in dramas.

In limited release, Oscar hopeful Zero Dark Thirty expanded from 5 to 60 theaters in major cities and delivered a rock solid performance with $2.7M weekend and potent $44,933 average. Sony goes fully nationwide on Friday into 2,400+ locations and aims to get extra ammunition for its marketing assault the day before when Academy nods are announced. Total is now $4.4M.

Summit went national with its tsunami drama The Impossible which grossed $2.8M from 572 sites (up from 15) for a mediocre $4,817 average. Total is just $3.4M. More theaters will be added Friday.

The top ten films grossed $116.5M which was off 3% from last year when The Devil Inside opened at number one with $33.7M; but up 30% from 2011 when True Grit remained in the top spot with $14.6M.

Compared to projections, Texas Chainsaw 3D powered ahead of my $16M forecast.

Get earlier box office updates and analysis by following BoxOfficeGuru.com on Twitter.

Watch the trailer for Star Trek Into Darkness. For a review of The Hobbit visit The Chief Report.

Be sure to check back on Thursday for a complete summary, including projections, for next weekend when A Haunted House and Gangster Squad both open and Zero Dark Thirty expands wide.

# Title Jan 4 - 6 Dec 28 - 30 % Chg. Theaters Weeks AVG Cumulative Distributor
1 Texas Chainsaw 3D $ 21,744,470 2,654 1 $ 8,193 $ 21,744,470 Lionsgate
2 Django Unchained 20,010,745 30,122,888 -33.6 3,010 2 6,648 106,280,122 Weinstein Co.
3 The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey 17,545,386 31,926,068 -45.0 3,755 4 4,673 263,834,893 Warner Bros.
4 Les Miserables 16,015,560 27,281,735 -41.3 2,904 2 5,515 103,503,040 Universal
5 Parental Guidance 9,704,619 14,554,053 -33.3 3,368 2 2,881 52,339,698 Fox
6 Jack Reacher 9,192,873 13,604,191 -32.4 3,288 3 2,796 64,697,214 Paramount
7 This is 40 8,353,350 12,501,060 -33.2 2,931 3 2,850 54,255,195 Universal
8 Lincoln 5,413,827 7,337,362 -26.2 1,901 9 2,848 144,089,046 Disney
9 The Guilt Trip 4,434,948 6,547,462 -32.3 2,312 3 1,918 31,111,882 Paramount
10 Promised Land 4,049,911 173,915 1,676 2 2,416 4,395,439 Focus
11 Monsters, Inc. 3D 3,987,905 6,447,437 -38.1 2,103 3 1,896 27,981,554 Disney
12 Silver Linings Playbook 3,616,710 4,079,314 -11.3 745 8 4,855 34,676,769 Weinstein Co.
13 Skyfall 3,074,796 4,531,824 -32.2 1,307 9 2,353 296,804,366 Sony
14 Life of Pi 2,813,392 3,780,269 -25.6 965 7 2,915 91,039,488 Fox
15 The Impossible 2,755,384 182,576 572 3 4,817 3,412,413 Summit
16 Zero Dark Thirty 2,696,006 316,415 752.0 60 3 44,933 4,406,138 Sony
17 Rise of the Guardians 2,675,583 4,892,291 -45.3 1,507 7 1,775 97,227,667 Paramount
18 Twilight: Breaking Dawn Pt. 2 1,377,070 2,359,289 -41.6 825 8 1,669 289,133,356 Summit
19 Cirque Du Soleil: Worlds Away 1,285,432 2,400,265 -46.4 817 3 1,573 10,878,362 Paramount
20 Wreck-It Ralph 1,181,724 1,855,213 -36.3 709 10 1,667 178,501,640 Disney
Top 5 $ 85,020,780 $ 117,488,935 -27.6
Top 10 116,465,689 155,214,547 -25.0
Top 20 141,929,691 177,095,547 -19.9
Top 20 vs. 2012 141,929,691 135,561,015 4.7

Last Updated: January 7, 2013 at 6:20PM ET

Watch Gitesh Pandya's weekly box office preview on CNN International airing live each Thursday at 6:40pm ET.