SUNDAY AM, 6TH UPDATE: Looks like Sony Pictures, Amy Pascal, Kathryn Bigelow and Mark Boal should stop worrying about all those torture scene critics in Hollywood and Washington DC. Not only did the controversy fuel filmgoers’ curiosity across the country this weekend but also inside the U.S. intelligence community. Sources tell me that as Zero Dark Thirty broke nationwide, the #1 theater in the country Friday was just minutes from CIA Headquarters in Langley, VA. The top 2 of 3 screens Friday and Saturday were Tysons Corner 16 in McLean, VA, and then Hoffman 22 in Alexandria, VA. The big story is that Best Picture candidate Annapurna Pictures/Sony Pictures’ expansion made it Bigelow’s top-grossing pic. “The public has spoken,” a Sony exec told me, referring to the Academy’s snubbing her for a Best Director nod. Domestically it was #1 today and for the weekend by a lot. The hunt for Bin Laden pic made more than I’d expected given its long 2-hour 37-minute running time. However, it’s got 5 fresh Oscar nominations to help marketing after playing in NYC and LA only since mid-December. According to exit polls, 59% of the opening weekend audience for the film was male/41% was female, and 38% was under 30 years of age/62% was older than 30. Filmgoers gave the pic an ‘A-’ CinemaScore.
Open Road Films’ newcomer, R-rated spoof A Haunted House, was helped by being the marketplace’s only new comedy. It surprisingly came in #2 even with a ‘B-’ CinemaScore. But upstart Open Road sure knows of late how to open films and keeps having successful debuts.
I said “not so fast” Friday midday when Warner Bros/Village Roadshow were bumping fists and believing their Gangster Squad felt like #1. “The tracking is very good. Excellent support from all quadrants,” a WB exec gushed to me at the time. Nope. After making a so-so $650K in midnight shows, it opened less than its expected $20M which in and of itself was $10M less than I’d expect Gangster‘s so-called starpower of Sean Penn, Ryan Gosling, Josh Brolin, Emma Stone to goose gross. But none of them can open a movie. (Remember how 1976′s Bugsy Malone cast moppets in the mob roles? This pic reeks of that.) Reviews were underwhelming although audiences gave Gangster Squad a ‘B+’ CinemaScore which should have helped word of mouth but didn’t. Gross went down -8% from Friday to Saturday. More analysis Sunday morning.
Previous frontrunner, The Weinstein Company’s R-rated Django Unchained, came in #4 beating Universal’s Les Miserables whose successful run just picked up more momentum with those 8 Academy Award nods. Tom Hooper’s musical is shattering records in its British debut.
As far as Oscar bumps, The Weinstein Company’s Silver Linings Playbook took the biggest jump after 8 Academy Award nods (+57% on Thursday and +36% on Friday). Followed by DreamWorks/Fox/Disney’s Lincoln after 12 (+43% on Thursday and +15% on Friday), and then 20th Century Fox’s Life Of Pi after 11 (+29% on Thursday but now playing in only 757 theaters).
The Top 10 movies based on weekend estimates are:
1. Zero Dark Thirty (Annapurna/Sony) Week 4 (Runs 2,937) R
Friday $9.0M, Saturday $9.3M, Weekend $24.0M, Cume $29.4M
2. A Haunted House (Open Road) NEW [Runs 2,160] R
Friday $6.7M, Saturday $7.5M, Weekend $18.8M
3. Gangster Squad (Village Roadshow/Warner Bros) NEW (Runs 3,103) R
Friday $6.6M, Saturday $6.2M, Weekend $16.7M
4. Django Unchained (Weinsteiin) Week 3 [Runs 3,012] R
Friday $3.4M, Saturday $4.7M, Weekend $11.9M, Cume $125.4M
5. Les Miserables (Working Title/Universal) Week 3 [Runs 2,928] PG13
Friday $2.8M, Saturday $4.2M, Weekend $9.7M, Cume $118.7M