Jessica Chastain just won a Golden Globe for Best Actress in a Drama. Now she has a standard horror genre picture coming out this weekend, though it does come courtesy of executive producer Guillermo del Toro. Still, it's unlikely that she'll be "Norbit-ed." The term refers to how Eddie Murphy, nominated for Best Supporting Actor for Dreamgirls in 2006, may have had his changes torpedoed by his starring role in the lowbrow comedy. With a 63% positive rating on Rotten Tomatoes (compared to Norbit's 7% positive rating), it's unlikely Mama (2,647 theatres) will be an embarrassment. The PG-13 rated picture is a "throwback and a modest delight for people who like a good scare but prefer not to be terrorized or grossed out," observes THR's critic Todd McCarthy. "Bloodthirsty female teens" will be a prime audience for the movie, which centers on Chastain and two young girls she takes in after a traumatic experience. An opening in the high teens would put the picture ahead of Zero Dark Thirty (also starring Chastain), though they should be neck and neck. If Zero Dark Thirty loses a third of its audience, which would be a particularly good hold, it will end up around $16 million, which should be enough for second place, if not first.
Last Stand and Broken City will both compete for adult male audiences this weekend. They're expected to do fairly similar business, with each one ending up in the low teen millions. The Last Stand (2,913 theatres) is Arnold Schwarzenegger's first leading-man role since he underwent the transition from movie star to politician, becoming a two-term governor of California. However, the action hero had much-touted cameos in the Expendables movies that many already considered his "return." Wittily self-referential, the film particularly sends up Schwarzenegger’s age," reports FJI critic Marsha McCreadie, noting a scene where he has to don glasses to get a look at a bullet wound. The answer to the "implied question behind the film: Can Schwarzenegger still deliver?" is yes.
A corrupt mayor (Russell Crowe) hires a P.I. (Mark Wahlberg) to find out if his wife (Catherine Zeta-Jones) is being unfaithful in Broken City (2,620 theatres). Of course, that initial hint of betrayal spirals into something much bigger in this "noir-ish" look at New York City. The "broad, splashy pieces of easily digestible narrative, visual and character components...provides an easy ride into a cheesy, lazily imagined New York political scandal," offers critic Doris Toumarkine. That might be enough to get adult males into seats this weekend, at least the ones who prefer to see power wielded cerebrally, not physically.
After spending three weeks playing in around 750 theatres, Silver Linings Playbook will open wide, into, 2,523 locations. The romantic comedy has earned $43 million to date. This weekend should add at least another $10 million to the total. All four lead actors (Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence, Robert De Niro, Jacki Weaver) received Oscar nominations for their performances. With a cipher of a title and a premise that's hard to reduce to a one-line plot description, this movie has sought to gain viewers primarily through word-of-mouth, which is why it has rolled out so slowly.
On Monday, we'll see which Jessica Chastain film led the box office and how many Academy Award nominees kept their spot in the top ten.