NEW YORK Jessica Chastain easily out muscled Arnold Schwarzenegger and Mark Wahlberg over the weekend, topping the box office with her supernatural horror film Mama and the Oscar-nominated Osama bin Laden hunt thriller Zero Dark Thirty.
Mama opened well above expectations, with a box-office topping $32.1 million for Universal Pictures, according to studio estimates Sunday. Chastain also held the second spot with Zero Dark Thirty, for which she’s nominated by the Academy Awards for best actress. In its second week of wide release, Zero Dark Thirty took in almost $19 million.
Schwarzenegger’s post governorship starring comeback got off to a terrible start. His action flick The Last Stand opened with about $7.2 million for Lionsgate, one of the worst debuts for the brawny 65-year-old star. The film came in 10th.
Though Schwarzenegger co-starred in The Expendables 2, which opened with $28.6 million in August, The Last Stand is his first proper starring vehicle since exiting the California governor’s seat in January 2011.
The Mark Wahlberg, Russell Crowe-led New York crime film Broken City didn’t fare much better. The Fox release premiered with $9.4 million.
The Oscar-nominated Django Unchained, meanwhile, became the director’s biggest box-office hit in its fourth week. The Weinstein Co. release surpassed his previous film, Inglourious Basterds, by adding $9.2 million for a domestic total close to $140 million. But it did exceptional business internationally, taking in $48.1 million and proving that Tarantino’s spaghetti Western set in the antebellum South had tremendous appeal worldwide.
But domestically, audiences flocked to the PG-13-rated Mama, which bore the imprimatur of the well respected fantasy-spinner Guillermo Del Toro, a producer.
With Martin Luther King Jr. Day on Monday, Hollywood got a virtual four-day weekend at the box office. Universal had predicted Mama would finish with $33 million by the end of Monday.
Though horror films generally are a hit with male audiences, Mama appealed strongly to females, who made up 61 percent of its moviegoers. That was key on a weekend filled with male driven movies, including Broken City, The Last Stand, Django Unchained and Warner Bros.’ Gangster Squad.
“It’s an incredibly competitive marketplace for testosterone-driven films,” said Paul Dergarabedian, box-office analyst for Hollywood.com.
The Weinstein Co.’s Silver Linings Playbook, nominated for eight Academy Awards including best picture, expanded to its largest number of theaters in its 10th week of release. Playing in 2,523 theaters, a jump of 1,713 theaters, the David O. Russell film took in $12.7 million on the weekend - the same in which its star Jennifer Lawrence hosted Saturday Night Live - to draw close to $57 million.
Other Oscar favorites saw their largest boost internationally. Ang Lee’s 3-D fantasy Life of Pi continued to attract moviegoers worldwide, adding $20.7 million to its $393.9 million international haul. The international take for Tom Hooper’s musical, Les Miserables, grew to $150.5 million, with $19.4 million over the weekend.
MovieStyle, Pages 32 on 01/25/2013
Print Headline: Chastain flexes big-screen muscle