Jessica Chastain is a good bet to top the box office over the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday weekend, but in the new horror film "Mama," not with Best Picture Oscar nominee "Zero Dark Thirty."
You might not immediately recognize Chastain with short black hair, but she's in the supernatural thriller produced by Guillermo del Toro ("Pan's Labyrinth" "Hellboy"), one of three films debuting Friday. The other two are Arnold Schwarzenegger's comeback film "The Last Stand" and the Mark Wahlberg-Russell Crowe crime drama "Broken City."
"Mama" is looking at $20 million for the weekend and $22 million over the four days, industry analysts say. Last week's No. 1 film, "Zero Dark Thirty," looks like a close second, followed by "Broken City."
Kathryn Bigelow's tale of the hunt for Osama bin Laden was the top-seller at online movie ticket site Fandango on Thursday, with "Mama" No. 2.
The Weinstein Company is going nationwide with its Best Picture Oscar nominee "Silver Linings Playbook," upping its theater count from 810 to 2,523, and that should be in the mix, too. Disney is adding another 147 to raise the theater count on DreamWorks' Best Picture Oscar nominee to 2,174. Wins at the Golden Globes -- Best Drama for "Lincoln," Best Actress in Comedy/Musical for Jennifer Lawrence of "Silver Linings" -- should provide a bump for both.
Fox Searchlight is putting its Best Picture Oscar nominee, "Beasts of the Southern Wild," back in about 70 theaters this weekend. The micro-budgeted indie film, which has been out on DVD since early December, has taken in $11.2 million since opening in June.
Chastain, who is a Best Actress Oscar nominee for "Zero Dark Thirty," stars in "Mama" with Nikolaj Coster-Waldau from HBO's "Game of Thrones," Megan Charpentier and Isabelle Nelisse.
This supernatural thriller is directed by the creator of the 2008 short film on which "Mama" is based, Andres Muschietti. Del Toro serves as an executive producer on the film which is produced by Barbara Muschietti, Andy's sister who worked with him on the short that became a viral sensation, and J. Miles Dale. The production budget is around $15 million.
It tells the story of two young girls who disappeared into the woods on the day their parents were killed. When found years later in a decrepit cabin, their uncle (Coster-Waldau) and his girlfriend (Chastain) suspect that a supernatural presence has entered the home alongside the girls.
Universal has "Mama" in 2,647 theaters. It is tracking strongly with young women, its target audience, and will benefit from being one of the few PG-13 films currently in the marketplace. If it does take the top spot, it will be second horror film in three weeks to lead the box office. "Texas Chainsaw 3D" was No. 1 two weeks ago.
In the R-rated "Broken City," directed by Allen Hughes, a former New York cop (Wahlberg) begins following the wife (Catherine Zeta-Jones) of the New York City mayor (Crowe), and uncovers a much bigger scandal.
The tracking on "Broken City" is mixed, and analysts see it doing around $15 million for the three days, $17 million for the four. That's considerably under "Contraband," another thriller starring Wahlberg that debuted to $24 million last January and went on to make $66 million for Universal.
Wahlberg is a producer on the $35 million film, which was financed by Emmet/Furla Films, with New Regency handling marketing. Distributor Fox is rolling it out on 2,620 screens.
"The Last Stand" is Schwarzenegger's first film in nine years, and features California's former governor as a small-town sheriff standing in the way of a drug kingpin's run for the border.
Lionsgate is distributing the R-rated action film, which has a budget in the mid-$40 million range and will be in 2,913 theaters. Directed by South Korean director Kim Jee-woon and written by Andrew Knauer and Jeffrey Nachmanoff, "The Last Stand" co-stars Johnny Knoxville, Forrest Whitaker and Eduardo Noriega.
The tracking and social media signs point to an opening in the $10 million-low teen millions range for the weekend. It was produced by Lorenzo di Bonaventura and was acquired by Lionsgate back in 2009, before Schwarzenegger was involved.
Two other Best Picture Oscar nominees, "Django Unchained" and "Les Miserables," are still in the marketplace on 3,010 and 2,927 screens respectively. "Django," which has taken in nearly $128 million domestically since opening on Christmas Day, is director Quentin Tarantino's biggest box office hit ever, surpassing 2009's "Inglourious Basterds," which made $120.5 million.
"Les Miserables" has brought in $120.7 million in the U.S., and added another $115 million overseas since opening on Dec. 25.