Lionsgate’s Saw franchise may have gone the way of the dodo, but this weekend the studio re-birthed another horror franchise centered on a limb-mangling blade. Texas Chainsaw 3D, a sequel/reboot of the 1974 horror classic The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, bowed with a bloody good $23.0 million, making 2013 the second year in a row that a horror film has kicked off the year in first place. The Devil Inside debuted with $33.7 million last January.
Texas Chainsaw 3D started off slower than the 2003 Jessica Biel remake The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, which opened with $28.1 million and found $80.6 million total, but it performed better than the 2006 prequel, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning, which started with $18.5 million and earned $39.5 million overall. Texas Chainsaw 3D will likely finish somewhere between those two predecessors, perhaps with about $50-55 million domestically.
Texas Chainsaw 3D was financed by Millennium Entertainment for just under $20 million, and distributor Lionsgate, which built itself on a foundation of successful horror releases, paid another $20 million for marketing. Audiences, which were 52 percent female and 64 percent under the age of 25, issued the film a flimsy “C+” CinemaScore grade. Notably one out of three moviegoers under 25 said their primary reason for attending the film was because it starred R&B artist Trey Songz, whose latest album, Chapter V, debuted at number one on the Billboard 200 in August 2012 with sales of 135,000 units in its first week.
Django Unchained finished the weekend in second place, dipping only 33 percent to $20.8 million. After 13 days, Django has earned a stunning $106.4 million, and by this time next week it will have passed Inglorious Basterds, which earned $120.5 million in 2009, as Quentin Tarantino’s highest grossing film. The Weinstein Co. tells EW that the film had an $87 million budget, though multiple reports claim that Django actually cost at least $100 million.
In third place, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey netted another $17.5 million (a 45 percent drop), which brings its domestic total to $263.8 million after four weekends. The film, which cost Warner Bros. about $250 million, has been a behemoth performer overseas. It’s earned $561 million internationally, with a run in China still to come.
Universal’s $61 million Oscar-bait musical Les Miserables wound up in fourth place, declining 41 percent to $16 million. Since its Christmas day debut, the Tom Hooper-directed film has earned $103.6 million, making it the seventh highest-grossing musical of all time behind Grease ($188.8 million), Chicago ($170.7 million), Mamma Mia! ($144.1 million), Enchanted ($127.8 million), Hairspray ($118.9 million), and The Rocky Horror Picture Show ($112.9 million). Assuming Les Mis receives a bevvy of Oscar attention on Thursday, when nominations will be announced, it’s safe to assume that the film will climb to at least fourth place on that list.
Rounding out the Top 5 was Fox’s Parental Guidance, which fell only 30 percent to $10.1 million in its second weekend. Though the $25 million film, which stars Billy Crystal and Bette Midler, has never climbed higher than fourth place on any day since its Christmas release, its quietly becoming a solid mid-level hit, and after 13 days it has earned a not-bad $52.8 million.
1. Texas Chainsaw 3D – $23.0 million
2. Django Unchained – $20.8 million
3. The Hobbit – $17.5 million
4. Les Miserables – $16.1 million
5. Parental Guidance – $10.1 million
Three high-profile films notably expanded this weekend, each with wildly different results. Matt Damon’s anti-fracking passion project Promised Land failed to make a splash after moving from 25 to 1,676 theaters. The Focus Features film, which cost Focus and Participant Media $15 million to produce, earned only $4.3 million this weekend, giving it a terrible $2,573 per theater average. The Impossible didn’t do much better in its expansion from 15 to 572 theaters. Summit’s tsunami tale, which stars Ewan McGregor and remarkably consistent box office poison Naomi Watts, took in $2.76 million, yielding a tepid $4,825 average, a figure that doesn’t merit major expansion. Fortunately, The Impossible has already earned $81.2 million internationally. Zero Dark Thirty did far better than either of those films. The Kathryn Bigelow-directed Osama Bin Laden assassination tale expanded from 5 to 60 theaters and earned $2.75 million, enough for a sizzling $45,834 average. The film moves into wide expansion on Friday.
Next week Zero Dark Thirty will face off against horror spoof A Haunted House as well as Gangster Squad, which was moved from September to January following the Aurora shootings. Check back to EW to see how those films fare, and follow me on Twitter for more box office musing and up-to-the-minute updates!