Lionsgate’s horror sequel Texas Chainsaw 3-D debuted at No. 1 with $ 23 million, according to studio estimates Sunday. The movie picks up where 1974’s The Texas Chainsaw Massacre left off, with masked killer Leatherface on the loose again.
After three weekends at No. 1, part one of Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit trilogy slipped to third with $ 17.5 million. That lifts the domestic haul to $ 263.8 million for The Hobbit, the Warner Bros. blockbuster that also has topped $ 500 million overseas to raise its worldwide total to about $ 800 million.
Like other horror franchises, Texas Chainsaw Massacre has had several other remakes or sequels, but the idea always seems ripe for a new wave of fright-flick fans. Nearly two-thirds of the audience was under 25, too young — or not even born — when earlier Texas Chainsaw Massacre movies came out.
Texas Chainsaw drew a hefty 84 per cent of its business from 3-D screenings. Many movies now draw 50 per cent or less of their revenue from 3-D screenings, but horror fans tend to prefer paying extra to see blood and guts fly with an added dimension.
In narrower release, Matt Damon’s natural-gas fracking drama Promised Land had a slow start in its nationwide debut, coming in at No. 10 with $ 4.3 million after opening in limited release a week earlier.
Released by Focus Features, Promised Land stars Damon as a salesman pitching rural residents on fracking technology to drill for natural gas. The film widened to 1,676 theatres, averaging a slim $ 2,573 a cinema, compared with $ 8,666 in 2,654 theatres for Texas Chainsaw.
Overall business this weekend came in at $ 149 million, up 7 per cent from the same period last year, when The Devil Inside led with $ 33.7 million, according to box-office tracker Hollywood.com. But with strong business on New Year’s Day last week, Hollywood already has raked in $ 254.2 million, 33 per cent ahead of last year.
Box-office results ebb and flow quickly, so that lead could vanish almost overnight. But with a steady lineup of potential hits right through December, studios have a chance at another revenue record this year.
“The month that we had at the end of last year that led us to a record year continued right through New Year’s and on now to the first official weekend of 2013,” said Hollywood.com analyst Paul Dergarabedian. “We’re looking for an even stronger year this year. That’s in the realm of possibility. But we have 51 weekends to go.”
Estimated ticket sales for Friday through Sunday at U.S. and Canadian theatres, according to Hollywood.com. Where available, latest international numbers are also included. Final domestic figures will be released Monday.
1. Texas Chainsaw 3-D, $ 23 million.
2. Django Unchained, $ 20.1 million.
4. Les Miserables, $ 16.1 million ($ 14.5 million international).
5. Parental Guidance, $ 10.1 million.
6. Jack Reacher, $ 9.3 million ($ 22.3 million international).
7. This Is 40, $ 8.6 million.
8. Lincoln, $ 5.3 million.
9. The Guilt Trip, $ 4.5 million.
10. Promised Land, $ 4.3 million.