By Amy Kaufman
11:04 AM CST, January 6, 2013
"Texas Chainsaw 3D" easily sliced through the competition at the box office this weekend — not that its rivals were particularly threatening.
As the only new film to hit theaters nationwide, the reboot of the 1974 horror flick only had to contend with a handful of movies that have been out for weeks. Still, the low-budget movie did better than expected, collecting a robust $23 million during its opening weekend, according to an estimate from distributor Lionsgate.
Heading into the weekend, pre-release audience polling suggested that "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey" would claim No. 1 for the fourth consecutive weekend, while "Chainsaw" looked poised to finish second with around $16 million. Instead, Peter Jackson's film grossed $17.5 million, raising its domestic total to $263.8 million.
Meanwhile, both "Django Unchained" and "Les Misérables crossed the $100-million milestone. Since being released on Christmas Day, Quentin Tarantino's film has sold $106.4 million, while the film version of the Broadway musical is up to $103.6 million. The continued performance of the movies helped to start the year off on a positive note, as ticket sales were up 7% compared with the same weekend in 2012.
"Texas Chainsaw 3D" is the sixth film to feature the villain Leatherface since the original horror film was released almost four decades ago. The new movie posted the second-highest opening of any "Chainsaw" film — not adjusting for inflation — behind 2003's "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre," the Jessica Biel film which ultimately sold a strong $80.6 million.
Financed by Avi Lerner's Millennium Pictures for about $20 million, "Texas Chainsaw 3D" is being distributed by Lionsgate. The movie — which has notched only a 23% fresh rating on the review aggregation site Rotten Tomatoes — received an average grade of C+ from opening-weekend moviegoers, according to market research firm CinemaScore. However, horror films often receive poor CinemaScores and still go on to do good business at the box office.
The film attracted a young audience, 64% of whom were under the age of 25. Of those in that age group, 1 out of 3 said the main reason they showed up to see the film was because the musical artist Trey Songz had a role in it. "Chainsaw" is the first film the 28-year-old Grammy nominee has starred in, and he has been heavily promoting the picture to his 5.6-million Twitter followers in recent weeks.
Also this weekend, the Matt Damon-John Krasinski collaboration "Promised Land" got off to a bad start. The environmental picture, which was co-written by and stars the actors, expanded from 25 theaters to 1,676 locations but brought in a lackluster $4.3 million.
The Focus Features production about a town with natural gas reserves only cost the studio and co-financier Participant Media about $15 million to produce. But with middling reviews and a B CinemaScore, it's a long shot that the film will end up being a hit even given its modest budget.
Another film that expanded this weekend was "The Impossible," the $40-million production about a family in the aftermath of the 2004 Thailand tsunami. Playing in 572 locations, the Summit Entertainment release collected a so-so $2.8 million. However, the picture is faring far better overseas. Already a hit in Spain, where its filmmaker hails from, the movie debuted in the United Kingdom this weekend and grossed $6.4 million. Overall, the movie has grossed $81.2 million abroad and $3.4 million in the U.S. and Canada.
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