Box Office: Jessica Chastain Overpowers Mark Wahlberg and Arnold Schwarzenegger with Mama and Zero Dark Thirty

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Jessica Chastain showed Mark Wahlberg and Arnold Schwarzenegger how it’s done at the box office. Twice.

Chastain’s Mama and Zero Dark Thirty owned the top two spots in the holiday weekend standings.

Wahlberg’s Broken City marked one of the reliable star’s weakest openings of the last decade, while Schwarenegger’s comeback vehicle The Last Stand stalled.

The supernatural thriller Mama, reportedly made for just $15 million, grossed a stronger-than-expected $28.1 million from Friday-Sunday, per estimates. The film is projected to have $33.2 million by the Martin Luther King Jr. Day holiday on Monday. It is the first No. 1 opener of Chastain’s career.

Young women flocked to Mama. But for all the enthusiasm, the film was only scored a so-so B-minus by opening-weekend audiences, a lesser grade than received by either Broken City or The Last Stand, which both earned Bs.

Generally liked or no, Broken City could do no better than a fifth-place bow. The crime drama’s $9 million Friday-Sunday take was the lowest wide-release debut for a Wahlberg film since the 2002 thriller The Truth About Charlie.

Schwarzenegger’s The Last Stand was even meeker. Its $6.3 million, three-day start is the smallest of the former governor’s career in nearly 20 years, going all the way back to the comedy Junior, which, by 1994 standards, was a success.  

The Last Stand was the opposite in every way of Mama. Instead of No. 1, it barely cracked the Top 10. Instead of young women, its business was driven by men over the age of 25.

Elsewhere, Chastain’s other movie, a little Oscar contender called Zero Dark Thirty, held very strong in its second week in wide release, and took the No. 2 spot with a $17.6 million Friday-Sunday. To date, the Osama bin Laden thriller has grossed about $56 million domestically.

Silver Linings Playbook, starring Chastain’s Best Actress foe Jennifer Lawrence, got a huge Oscar bounce (and a lot more screens), and jumped seven places in the standings to third, with a $11.4 million take.

Ryan Gosling‘s Gangster Squad ($9.1 million; $32.2 million domestically) held OK after a soft start.

Steven Spielberg‘s Lincoln ($5.4 million) fell from the Top 10 after a blockbuster $160.5 million run; Billy Crystal‘s Parental Guidance ($4.3 million) fell from the standings after a surprisingly strong $66.3 million take. Also outside of the Top 10, James Bond behemoth Skyfall topped the $300 million mark domestically.

In limited release, the new drama Luv, starring Common, grossed an unimpressive $90,000 from 45 theaters.

Here’s a complete look at the weekend’s top movies, per Friday-Sunday studio estimates and stats as compiled per Exhibitor Relations:

  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 million
  6. A Haunted House, $8.3 million
  7. Django Unchained, $8.2 million
  8. Les Misérables, $7.8 million
  9. The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, $6.5 million
  10. The Last Stand, $6.3 million

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