Winning over the minds and hearts of moviegoers in America's heartland, Peter Berg's Navy SEALs drama Lone Survivor opened to a huge $38.5 million in North America, far more than expected and one of the best showings in recent times for a war film.
The patriotic-themed pic, earning a coveted A+ CinemaScore, boasts the second-best debut of all time for the month of January after Cloverfield ($40.1 million). Lone Survivor was strongest in flyover states, led by Texas.
Starring Mark Wahlberg, Taylor Kitsch, Emile Hirsch and Ben Foster, Lone Survivor is based on Marcus Luttrell's memoir about four SEALs sent on a dangerous mission to Afghanistan. (Wahlberg plays Luttrell.) Universal is releasing Lone Survivor domestically and in select foreign markets. Emmett/Furla Films produced the $40 million pic, which was financed in part by embattled Envision Films.
Lone Survivor marks a comeback for Berg after his pricey miss Battleship.
Disney's holdover Frozen fell to No. 2 with roughly $15 million, pushing its domestic total to north of $317 million. The tentpole, with an international cume of $394.6 million, sailed past the $700 million mark worldwide to end the weekend with $712.2 million in total ticket sales.
Martin Scorsese's The Wolf of Wall Street did pleasing business in its third weekend, grossing $9 million for a domestic total of $78.6 million. Placing No. 3, the controversial film continues to do best on both coasts.
Millennium Films's new entry The Legend of Hercules followed with a weak $8.6 million, tying with holdover American Hustle for No. 4.
Distributed by Summit Entertainment, Hercules needed to do more considering its $70 million production budget. The epic, directed by Renny Harlin, receiving a lukewarm B- CinemaScore, is the first of two Hercules pics slotted for 2014.
American Hustle, from director David O. Russell, also remained strong as it crossed the $100 million mark in North America, ending its fourth weekend in nationwide release with a cume of $101.6 million.
Wolf of Wall Street and American Hustle were among a crowded class of award contenders hoping for a boost on the eve of Sunday's Golden Globes ceremony, including John Wells' August: Osage County and Spike Jonze's Her, both of which expanded nationwide on Friday.
Osage County out-performed expectations, grossing $7.3 million to come in No. 7. The dysfunctional family drama, from The Weinstein Co., bested Her despite playing in far fewer theaters (905 versus 1,729).
Her, starring Joaquin Phoenix and Scarlett Johansson, grossed a soft $5.4 million to come in No. 11.