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Source: Jeff Bock
Date: Jan 17, 2013

Three new flicks hit the silver screen this weekend, and although most of the press is being directed towards Arnold Schwarzenegger's "The Last Stand," Lionsgate's onslaught of action will likely place a distant third behind Universal's chill pill "Mama" and Fox's thriller "Broken City" starring Mark Wahlberg. Not only is this weekend tough draw facing each other, but with all the awards hoopla going on, they have to square-off against several films that are riding a wave of hype.

"Les Miserables" and "Argo" took home the top honors at the Golden Globes this past weekend, but don't expect them to be in the running at the box office this weekend. No, it's "Zero Dark Thirty" and "Silver Linings Playbook" have the biggest upside as they are the newest of the nominees to play in wide release.   

After the Oscars, the Golden Globes is the biggest awards show for film, however that doesn't necessarily equate to a box office bonanza. Truth is, most of the big films--"Argo," "Lincoln," "Life of Pi," and "Les Miserables"--have already played out in North America, and won't get another bump until one is crowned Best Picture.

Bottom line is: If you win a Golden Globe you place your statue in a nice spot in your bathroom--maybe next to the potpourri jar--if you win an Oscar you put it on the mantel next to your grandmother's urn.

With all the controversy surrounding "Zero Dark Thirty," as well as the critical acclaim, Sony's Bin Laden manhunt movie has a solid shot at nabbing the top spot two weeks in a row. That said--it won't be easy. In fact, Golden Globe winner Jessica Chastain may knock herself off as she stars in a new PG-13 horror flick, "Mama," produced by Guillermo Del Toro.

One thing I know about scary movies...if it features freaky-ass kids and women who contort their bodies and scurry up walls you've got the trappings of a flick that is destined for boffo box office.

We've seen it before with "The Ring, "The Grudge," and more recently with last year's "Insidious." "Mama" dishes out similar classic (see cliché) elements and is obviously cut from the same bloody cloth. Expect "Mama" to squeeze out around $20 million in 2,647 theaters, which would mean "ZD30" needs to drop by less than -20% to win the weekend. 

That will give horror flicks 2 of 3 weekends to start 2013--making it the hottest genre in tinseltown. As Freddy, Jason, and paranormal ghosts know--horror icons never truly die, even if you juice them in a blender. Nope, they just play dead for a bit and return with vengeance. 

Speaking of coming back from the grave--It's hard to believe that a decade has passed since Arnie headlined his own original action flick, but let's face it, he's never been out of the limelight over that span of time. And while the "The Last Stand" looks like a solid return to form for his core fans, let's not forget this is January, not summer, and that studios often use this time of year to test the box office waters.   

It's no surprise that every big-name, action-jackson has their own film this winter/spring--Arnold in "The Last Stand," Sly in "Bullet to the Head," Statham in "Parker," Bruce in "A Good Day to Die Hard," and The Rock in "Snitch." We can thank the combined heat of "The Expendables" movies for that, as Lionsgate's flicks have juiced the retirement age of our favorite action hero's careers well past the AARP's recommended age. 

Still, Arnold's co-star is Johnny Knoxville and that spells all sorts of trouble. This isn't "Jackass 4-D." Plus, with Mark Wahlberg playing his action card in "Broken City," which is a legitimate threat to do some box office damage, and with "Mama" expected to take the weekend, that leaves "The Last Stand" in a bit of pickle--$12 million tops, even though it's in the most theaters at 2,913.  

Wahlberg is having a remarkable run at the box office of late. Besides his massive comedy hits "Ted" and "The Other Guys," he also steered last winter's "Contraband" to a very respectable $66 million. The thing about Marky Mark is that he's able to do comedy, drama, and action without missing a beat. That's a very rare commodity in Hollywood these days. And while Fox's "Broken City" may not be his most flashy flick, it will certainly have its share of supporters: $16 million at 2,620 sites.

Weinstein's best chance at winning Hollywood's most golden guy this year isn't Paul Thomas Anderson's "The Master" or Quentin Tarantino's "Django Unchained," but David O. Russell's "Silver Linings Playbook" which features the acting tour-de-force of Jennifer Lawrence, Robert DeNiro, Bradley Cooper and Jacki Weaver.  While it's still a long shot to win Best Picture, don't count out the marketing prowess and full-court-press of Harvey Weinstein, who knows better than anyone how to win at all costs. He may be the Genghis Khan of the Oscars.

While the film has already been playing for nine weeks, this weekend will mark its first foray into saturated release. But, the question is: will the film play well outside metropolitan markets? It made $5 million last weekend on over 800 screens and balloons to 2,523 this weekend and looks headed for an opening in the low teens.



1. Mama - $20M

2. Zero Dark Thirty - $18M

3. Broken City - $16M

4. The Last Stand - $12M

5. Silver Linings Playbook - $11.5M


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