This weekend at the box office, the old adage “there’s no such thing as bad publicity” proved to be right. Kathryn Bigelow’s Zero Dark Thirty, which chronicles the (torture involving) hunt for Osama bin Laden, has been sparking debate. With some arguing it’s pro-torture propaganda for the CIA and others decrying this as outrageous, Bigelow’s follow up to The Hurt Locker has been nabbing headlines—weeks before it was even released. The fact Bigelow was snubbed for an Oscar nomination for Best Director most likely only added to the public’s curiosity. A couple million behind in second place was A Haunted House, the found footage spoof horror film. Gangster Squad had moderate success, claiming the third spot, and rounding out the bottom two places were the holiday hangovers, Django Unchained and Les Misérables.
Zero Dark Thirty $24,000,000 (Total: $29,481,000)
Originally slated for a December release, Sony bumped the date to the New Year, avoiding the crowded holiday release rush, though still making the cut for the coming Oscars. But what really puts things into perspective is that Bigelow’s last film, the Oscar-winning The Hurt Locker, made $145,352 its opening weekend in 2009, going on to make $17,017,811 total.
A Haunted House $18,817,000
Take note: found footage has officially reached a saturation spoof tipping point. We can all move on now.
Gangster Squad $16,710,000
Another controversial film, albeit less so than Zero Dark Thirty, Ruben Fleischer’s 1940s gangster film was re-cut following the Aurora shooting, as it featured a sequence of mass violence in a movie theatre. The delayed release, however, didn’t bolster its profile, nor did its cast of impressive looking men, including Giovanni Ribisi, whom we spoke to.
Django Unchained $11,065,000 (Total: $125,399,000)
Up for four Oscars (though no Best Director for Quentin Tarantino), the blaxploitation and western homage is still trucking along.
Les Misérables $10,127,000 (Total: $119,206,000)
Though it has double the number of Oscar nods than Django Unchained, this didn’t help boost Tom Hooper’s film to the top of the list.