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Weekend Box Office: It's a Horribly Good Weekend for Jessica Chastain with Mama, Zero Dark Thirty

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By Chris Kavan - 01/20/13 at 11:26 PM CT

It was a good weekend for at least one of the new films opening. It was also a good weekend for Jessica Chastain, who starred in the two biggest films of the weekend. Still, as audiences are fickle, it wasn't such a good weekend for Arnold Schwarzenegger or Mark Wahlberg - both of whose new films got off to a very rocky start. And awards season buzz continued to play a part at the box office as well, with some films getting a noticeable boost in business.

1) MAMA

Horror fans once again proved their might at the box office. With a little help from Guillermo del Toro, Mama easily took first place with $28.1 million. I, for one, am glad it managed to top the opening for Texas Chainsaw 3D ($21.74 million) and can be named, for now, as the best horror film of the year. The audience was largely female (61%) and younger (63% under 25) though the B- cinemascore suggests that the film won't have a lot of staying power. Still, the film only cost $15 million and a $50 million gross isn't out of the picture.

2) ZERO DARK THIRTY

Speaking of $50 million grosses, the hunt for bin Laden drama, which recently won Chastain a Golden Globe, broke passed that mark, taking in $17.6 million in its second wide-release weekend for a new total of $55.9 million. Good word of mouth (and awards recognition) probably helped things along. The film held up well, dropping just 28% and it should continue to play well. A $100 million total seems likely at this point.

3) THE SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK

After weeks of limited release runs, the David O. Russell romantic comedy/drama with Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence finally hit the multitudes. And the strategy for teasing it out slowly apparently worked. Jumping from 10th to 3rd place (by adding 1,730 theaters to its count) Silver Linings took in $11.35 million and also crossed the $50 million mark to wind up with $55.3 million. This film was up 126.2% from last week (when it only played in 810 theaters) and the response means that a $100 million total is likely for this film as well. If Lawrence and Cooper (and anyone else) can nab some more awards, it should bolster the strong performance of the film.

4) GANGSTER SQUAD

After a somewhat tepid opening, the period action ensemble dropped 46.6% and took in $9.1 million to raise its total to $32.2 million. It's not going to be able to top its $90 million cost domestically and better hope for a strong international response in order to recoup costs. Expect this to drop out of the top 10 fairly quickly, despite the pedigree of the actors involved.

5) BROKEN CITY

Although both Wahlberg and Russell Crowe are coming off some big films (Ted and Les Miserables) the combined might of the two actors couldn't bring audiences in to Broken City. With just $9 million, and a weak critical and audience reaction (B cinemascore), it's not going to make its modest $35 million budget back. I said it was too generic to attract a big audience, and, for once, I was right.

Outside the top 10: I wasn't sure what to expect from The Last Stand, but I figured some action fans would show up. Woe to the former governator: The Last Stand barely managed to crack the top 10 with $6.3 million. It's looking like the aging action star's comeback is going to be dead before he has a chance to revive it, though other projects on the horizon might change that tune... but this isn't going to help any future chances.

Down in 13th place, Life of Pi was up 25.7% (adding nearly 500 theaters) and it poised to cross the $100 million mark with the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday factored in on Monday. It currently stands at $99.2 million.

Also crossing a milestone in its 11th week in theaters, Skyfall took in $1.05 million and became the first Bond film to cross the $300 million mark in the U.S with $300.9 million.

Next weekend sees the opening of the rare comedy anthology featuring a whose-who in Hollywood with Movie 43, the delayed opening of the Jeremy Renner and Gemma Arterton action/fantasy film Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters and Jason Statham doing what Jason Statham does best (kicking ass and taking names) with Parker. Will any connect with audiences? We shall see.

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