• Jessica Chastain films take top two spots at box office
    By
     | January 22,2013
     
    AP FILE PHOTO

    This undated publicity film image provided by Columbia Pictures Industries, Inc. shows Jessica Chastain playing a member of the elite team of spies and military operatives who secretly devoted themselves to finding Osama Bin Laden in “Zero Dark Thirty.”

    NEW YORK — Jessica Chastain easily outmuscled Arnold Schwarzenegger and Mark Wahlberg over the weekend, topping the box office with both 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 $28.1 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 $17.6 million.

    The films’ strong performances made an unlikely box-office queen out of a chameleon-like actress that even fans of “Mama” might have trouble picking out of a lineup. Chastain, whose credits range from Terrence Malick’s “The Tree of Life” to “The Help” (for which she was also Oscar nominated), even accomplished the rare feat by besting a couple more traditional box-office stalwarts.

    Schwarzenegger’s post-governorship comeback got off to a terrible start. His action flick “The Last Stand” opened with just $6.3 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 $9.1 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 $8.2 million for a domestic total of $138.4 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.

    “Never underestimate the drawing power of a PG-13 horror film,” said Paul Dergarabedian, box-office analyst for Hollywood.com.

    Nikki Rocco, head of distribution for Universal Pictures, acknowledged the apparently limitless appetite for such a film, if done right: “That’s why we did it,” she said.

    “It’s a fun film without a lot of extraordinary violence,” said Rocco, who added she would have been “thrilled” with a debut in the mid- to high-teens. “Young people like scary stuff.”

    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 $11.4 million on the weekend — the same in which its star Jennifer Lawrence hosted “Saturday Night Live” — for a cumulative $55.3 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 huge $393.9 million international haul. The international take for Tom Hooper’s musical, “Les Miserables,” also grew to $150.5 million with $19.4 million on the weekend.

    MORE IN World/National Business
    WASHINGTON — Fewer Americans bought homes in August, as investors retreated from real estate and... Full Story
    US existing home sales fall in August
    NEW YORK — Worries about the outlook for growth in China and a slide in the price of oil pushed... Full Story
    US stocks drop as China, oil weigh on markets
    MONTPELIER — Let’s not call this a “beer run.” That has such a Friday night frat boy connotation. Full Story
    The ultimate beer journey in Vermont
    More Articles
  •  
     
    • MEDIA GALLERY 
    • VIDEOS
    • PHOTOS