Lionsgate's Texas Chainsaw 3D exceeded expectations in its debut, grossing $23 million to win the crowded domestic box office race.
Produced and financed by Millennium Films, the seventh installment in the slasher franchise scored one of the better openings for the first full weekend in January, a favorite landing place for horror. On the same weekend last year, The Devil Inside debuted to $33.7 million.
Texas Chainsaw, picking up where Tobe Hooper's 1974 classic slasher film left off, earned a C+ CinemaScore. Normally, a poor grade would spell trouble for a film's playability, but horror films often receive a C.
In an era where moviegoing has fallen off among teenagers and younger adults, Texas Chainsaw was an exception, with 63 percent of the audience under the age of 25. Among this demo, one out of three said a major draw was musical artist Trey Songz, who stars in the film alongside Alexandra Daddario and Dan Yeager.
Texas Chainsaw, costing $20 million to produce, marks another victory for Lionsgate, which crossed $1 billion in domestic ticket sales in 2012, a first.
Pre-release tracking had suggested that holdovers The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey and Django Unchained would battle it out for No. 1, followed by Les Miserables.
Django, from the Weinstein Co., came in a strong No. 2, falling only 33 percent from last weekend to gross $20.1 million and jump the $100 million mark at the domestic box office. Django, with a cume of $106.4 million, is on track to become Quentin Tarantino's top grossing film in North America. Inglourious Basterds is the current record holder with $120 million in ticket sales.
Peter Jackson's The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey placed No. 3 in its fourth weekend, grossing $17.5 million for a domestic total of $263.8 million. The tentpole, from New Line and MGM, has now earned north of $820 million worldwide.
Tom Hooper's Le Mis, opening opposite Django on Christmas Day, also jumped the $100 million mark domestically. The film reached the milestone in 13 days, the fastest for any musical. Combined with international earnings of $81 million, Les Mis has earned $184.6 million worldwide.
Family comedy Parental Guidance rounded out the top five domestically, grossing $10.1 million for a domestic cume of $52.8 million.
Matt Damon-John Krasinski drama Promised Land continued to struggle as it expanded nationwide. From director Gus Van Sant, the movie placed No. 10 with a gross of $4.3 million from 1,675 theaters.
Kathryn Bigelow's Zero Dark Thirty continued to dominate at the specialty box office as it expanded into an additional nine cities, grossing $2.75 million from 60 theaters for a stellar location average of $45,834. Zero Dark Thirty, opening in only New York and Los Angeles on Dec. 19, has now earned $4.5 million.
Zero Dark Thirty has sparked the ire of some lawmakers on Capitol Hill, who maintain the film -- chronicling the government's decade-long hunt for Osama bin Laden -- puts too much emphasis on the role torture played in tracking down bin Laden. Last week, the U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee said it would investigate whether the CIA gave classified information to Bigelow and screenwriter Mark Boal.
The controversy doesn't appear to be diminishing interest in the film, which expands nationwide Jan. 11. The top five theaters for Zero Dark Thirty included locations in Orange County, Texas and Chicago.
Here are the full results for the weekend of Jan. 4-6 at domestic box office:
Title, Weeks in release/Theater count, Studio, Three-day weekend total, Cume
1. Texas Chainsaw 3D, 1/2,654, Lionsgate, $23 million.
2. Django Unchained, 2/3010, The Weinstein Co., $20.1 million, $106.4 million.
3. The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, 4/3,755, New Line/MGM, $17.5 million, $263.8 million.
4. Les Miserables, 2/2,904, Universal, $16.1 million, $103.6 million.
5. Parental Guidance, 2/3,368, 20th Century Fox, $10.1 million, $52.8 million.
6. Jack Reacher, 3/3,288, Paramount, $9.3 million, $64.8 million.
7. This Is 40, 3/2,931, Universal, $8.6 million, $54.5 million.
8. Lincoln, 9/1,901, Disney/DreamWorks, $5.3 million, $143.9 million.
9. The Guilt Trip, 3/2,312, Paramount, $4.5 million, $31.2 million.
10. Promised Land, 2/1,675, Disney/Pixar, $4.3 million, $4.7 million.