Box office update: Jessica Chastain takes No. 1 and No. 2 with 'Mama' and 'Zero Dark Thirty'

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Image Credit: Universal Pictures

Jessica Chastain is having a moment. Not only did the red-headed Oscar nominee win a Golden Globe last weekend for her work in Zero Dark Thirty, which forced her to take a night off from her Broadway run — yes she’s starring in Broadway’s The Heiress during the thick of awards season — but she’s now achieved something few actors have ever managed: she currently holds the number one and number two movies at the box office.

Chastain’s latest vehicle, Mama, crushed the competition over the three-day weekend with a whopping $28.1 million. Universal, who produced the PG-13 film for only $15 million, opened Mama in 2,647 theaters, where it earned a terrific $10,624 average. The horror title played very well with young women — 61 percent of viewers were female, and 63 percent were below the age of 25. Unfortunately, most of those audiences weren’t overly enthusiastic about what they saw, issuing Mama a lackluster “B-” CinemaScore grade.

Chastain’s other entry, Zero Dark Thirty, fell only 28 percent in its sophomore weekend of wide release to $17.6 million, which brought the Osama Bin Laden huntdown’s total to $55.9 million. Controversy continues to boost the Kathryn Bigelow-directed drama’s profile, but great word-of-mouth seems to be playing just as big of a role in Zero Dark Thirty‘s success.

It’s fair to say that Chastain’s presence in both Mama and Zero Dark Thirty had little to do with each film’s successful box office performance. Neither was marketed on her appeal, and yet, that doesn’t take away from her achievement.

Silver Linings Playbook performed very nicely in its nationwide expansion. Upon jumping from 810 to 2,523 theaters, Playbook increased 126 percent to $11.4 million, which brings its total to $55.3 million so far. (Kudos to the Weinstein Co. for its deftly executed platform strategy. If they had opened Silver Linings Playbook in wide release, as planned, we almost certainly wouldn’t be talking about it 10 weeks later.) In the month leading up to Oscar season, good word-of-mouth may continue to carry Silver Linings Playbook to a total as high as $100 million.

In fourth place, Warner Bros.’ crime drama Gangster Squad fell 47 percent to $9.1 million, giving the $60 million Sean Penn/Josh Brolin action flick an unremarkable $32.2 million total after ten days.

Still, Gangster Squad’s second weekend was better than the debuts of new releases Broken City and The Last Stand, which both flopped out of the gate. Fox’s $35 million Broken City, which stars the usually reliable Mark Wahlberg alongside Russell Crowe, drew only $9.0 million worth of tickets from 2,620 theaters, while Lionsgate’s $45 million The Last Stand, an Arnold Schwarznegger film, fared even worse with a puny $6.3 million. Both films played primarily to older male audiences (who are also seeing Zero Dark Thirty and Gangster Squad), and they may have cannibalized each other over their first three days.

1. Mama – $28.1 million
2. Zero Dark Thirty – $17.6 million
3. Silver Linings Playbook – $11.4 million
4. Gangster Squad – $9.1 million
5. Broken City – $9.0 million

Check back tomorrow for the full box office report, which will cover the four-day holiday weekend.

For more box office musing and updates:

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