With Oscar-nominated films still adding theatres, the last weekend in January is never a good time for new releases at the box office. A few disappointments are always dumped by the studios around this time (last year’s duds were Man on a Ledge and One For the Money), as there are plenty of other films to distract form their failure. However, a sleeper hit sometimes emerges from this weekend—last year it was Liam Neeson’s worthy surprise hit The Grey—capitalizing on the dearth of new blockbusters. This year’s late January surprise was Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters, a tonally confused disappointment that was savaged by critics, but still attracted a sizable audience. Jason Statham’s Parker was the only other new release to crack the top five, falling behind horror sensation Mama, and two Oscar frontrunners: Silver Linings Playbook and Zero Dark Thirty.
Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters $19,000,000
If there was still any doubt that viewers are happy to watch mediocre reimaginings of classic fairy tales, consider it dispelled. The Three Little Pigs: Wolf Hunters can’t be far behind.
Mama $12,860,000 (Total: $48,648,000)
Nobody likes to see deranged children suffer—unless they’re characters in a horror movie, in which case they’re irresistible. Throw in a gothed up Jessica Chastain and you’ve got the first surprise hit of 2013.
Silver Linings Playbook $10,000,000 (Total: $69,465,000)
After adding 1,700 new theatres last week, Silver Linings Playbook continued to expand this week, further capitalizing on its eight Oscar nominations. After getting off to a slow start in November, this emotional comedy slowly found its audience, using much the same release strategy that worked wonders last year for The Descendants.
Zero Dark Thirty $9,800,000 (Total: $69.904,000)
With director Kathryn Bigelow on the cover of TIME magazine and her film still very much in the news, no torture was necessary to convince people to shell out for Zero Dark Thirty.
While Jason Statham’s latest landed in fifth place, it delivered an opening weekend comparable to his other recent starring vehicles, including the appropriately-titled Safe, which opened to $7.8 million last April.