"Zero Dark Thirty" director Kathryn Bigelow may have been shockingly snubbed by the Academy Awards when they released their nominations last week, but now she's getting the last laugh as her acclaimed and controversial film about the hunt for Osama bin Laden dominated the box office with a strong $24 million opening weekend.
That was more than enough to make the "Zero Dark Thirty" opening Bigelow's biggest ever, which is saying something considering she has won both Best Director and Best Picture (for "The Hurt Locker") and has cult classics like "Point Break" on her resume.
The good news for Bigelow came at a price, namely bad news for "Gangster Squad," which opened in third place with a disappointing $16.7 million. Despite an all-star cast that includes Ryan Gosling, Emma Stone and Josh Brolin, audiences seemed uninterested in the period action piece about cops fighting gangsters; even solid word of mouth, as shown by the film's solid B+ Cinemascore, wasn't enough to provide a bump.
The Marlon Wayans spoof "A Haunted House," on the other hand, did surpringly well, landing in second place with a robust $18.8 million. The only new comedy on the market, "A Haunted House" proved to be a smart bit of counter-programming for moviegoers uninterested in good movies.
For everyone else, the Oscar nominations provided a significant bump; besides the huge opening for "Zero Dark Thirty," a slew of other nominees received major upswings in viewership, with "Silver Linings Playbook" (up 57% on Thursday following the announcements) "Lincoln" (up 43%) and "Life of Pi" (up 29%) all benefiting.
Next week should be interesting, with major new releases "The Last Stand," "Broken City" and "Mama" competing against an array of returning films that will have received a push from tonight's Golden Globes. For now, though, here's the complete box office from this weekend, courtesy of Hollywood.com:
1. "Zero Dark Thirty" - $24m (our review)
2. "A Haunted House" - $18.8m (our review)
3. "Gangster Squad" - $16.7m (our review)
4. "Django Unchained" - $11.1m (our review)
5. "Les Misérables" - $10.1m (our review)
6. "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey" - $9.1m (our review)
7. “Lincoln” – $6.3m (our review)
8. "Parental Guidance" - $6.1 m (our review)
9. "Texas Chainsaw 3D" - $5.1m (our review)
10. "Silver Linings Playbook" - $5m (our review)