After spending several weeks in limited release, Kathryn Bigelow’s critically acclaimed film, “Zero Dark Thirty,” expanded to nearly 3,000 theaters nationwide and claimed the top spot during the Jan. 11-13 weekend. According to Box Office Mojo, the film, which focuses on the manhunt for Osama bin Laden, surged to number one with $24 million. That’s a 790% increase in attendance from its previous weekend, when it was in the number 16 spot.
There are many factors that could have lead to the film’s success. It has a 93% rating on Rotten Tomatoes; there is a lot controversy around its torture scenes; and it was just nominated for five Academy Awards, including Best Picture and Best Actress (Jessica Chastain).
The film has already surpassed Bigelow’s previous feature, the 2009 Oscar-winning “The Hurt Locker.” That film released in only 535 total theaters and earned $17 million during its domestic run. It was a success at the 2010 Oscars ceremony, winning Best Picture and Best Director, along with three other awards.
Marlon Wayans’ latest comedy project, “A Haunted House,” brought in $18.1 million in the number two spot. The latest spoof on horror films only had a budget of $2.5 million, so don’t be surprised if a sequel is released soon.
After being delayed and reworked, “Gangster Squad” finally made its way to theaters, but it looks like it will have to do some work to earn back its $70 million budget. The all-star period piece from Rueben Fleischer (“Zombieland”) brought in $16.7 million in third place.
Originally set for a 2012 release, “Gangster Squad” was delayed after the July 20 massacre in Aurora, Colo. One scene featured a group of gangsters shooting up a crowded theater from behind a screen. That scene has since been removed from the final product.
Two Best Picture nominees, “Django Unchained” and “Les Miserables,” rounded out the top five with $11 million and $10.1 million, respectively. Their respective totals are now at $125.3 million and $119.2.
In other news, last week’s champion, “Texas Chainsaw 3D,” fell a staggering 76% to number nine with just $5.1 million. Its total now stands at $30.7 million.