Going into this first weekend of 2013, it looked as though Peter Jackson's third-of-an-epic would once again end up the biggest movie in the nation, but the only new wide release, Texas Chainsaw 3D, snagged the title with an estimated $23.0 million haul from 2,654 locations.
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, meanwhile, fell to third place, with Quentin Tarantino's wondrously bloody western Django Unchained holding strong in second. In terms of totals, the former saw its earnings climb to a whopping $263.8 million and the latter brought its figure to $106.3 million, crossing the $100 million mark along with fellow Christmas Day release Les Miserables, now in fourth place.
But back to Texas Chainsaw 3D. In 1974, Tobe Hooper made a straight-up horror masterpiece with The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, and that masterpiece spawned three sequels over the followed twenty years. A decade ago, the property was dusted off for a Marcus Nispel-directed, Michael bay-produced remake, which itself then led to a prequel, Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning. The new film, directed by John Luessenhop, functions as a direct sequel to the original, and despite an evisceration from critics and a middling response from audiences, Texas Chainsaw 3D proved to be just what young folks were looking for. Viewers under 25 years old accounted for 65% of the movie's attendees, one-third of whom showed up because the film marks first starring role for Trey Songz. It's like the old saying goes: pay $16.00 bucks for a movie starring Trey Songz, get Alexandra Daddario in 3D out of the deal.
While it wasn't quite a wide release, this weekend also saw Promised Land expand from 25 to 1,676 theaters, from which it collected $4.3 million and cracked the top ten. More might be expected of the film, since it stars Matt Damon and is directed by his Good Will Hunting collaborator Gus Van Sant, but Promised Land, co-written by Damon and John Krasinski, is still an earnest drama about natural gas, hard times, and corporate exploitation. With strong reviews and awards season discussion, Promised Land would likely be making a better impression, but the critical response has been largely dismissive.
Thanks largely to the likes of Django Unchained holding strong, this weekend was up 7% overall from the first frame of 2012. Huzzah.
1. Texas Chainsaw 3D $23.0 million New Release
2. Django Unchained $20.0 million $106.3 million
3. The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey $17.5 million $263.8 million
4. Les Miserables $16.1 million $103.6 million
5. Parental Guidance $10.1 million $52.7 million
6. Jack Reacher $9.3 million $64.8 million
7. This Is 40 $8.5 million $54.4 million
8. Lincoln $5.2 million $143.9 million
9. The Guilt Trip $4.3 million $31.2 million
10. Promised Land $4.3 million $4.6 million
Texas Chainsaw 3D is having its day in the sun, but horror movies generally decline steeply after their first weekend. Not only that, but it'll face competition from Gangster Squad and the horror spoof A Haunted House.
Now, let's all go watch the original Texas Chainsaw Massacre and appreciate how, even in two dimensions, scary is scary.