Box-Office Oracle: ‘Zero Dark Thirty’ Over ‘Gangster Squad’ and ‘Haunted House’

Weekend Box-Office Predictions

Current Streak: 0 Weekends in a Row
Threat Level to Streak Being Broken: Thirty-Five percent. The general public is ready to see what all the fuss regarding Zero Dark Thirty is about.
Reason: If there was a real contender this weekend I’d be somewhat concerned, especially given I seem to be jinxed. But Kathryn Bigelow will deliver me a victory. Get it done, Kat-Big.

Zero Dark ThirtyZero Dark Thirty should get me off the schneid this weekend, fully restoring my reputation. Remember when calling the box office was easy? I miss those days. I’m giving the newly dubbed Best Picture nominee a shot at #1 with $27 million.

Two titles stand to hurt my chance of nailing the top spot this weekend, the wounded Gangster Squad and the supremely silly A Haunted House. The former title is getting 3,103 theaters to play with, but Ryan Gosling, Josh Brolin and Sean Penn look to be headed for a disaster.

The film was moved from September, ostensibly because a natural tragedy, but more likely due to it being a terrible movie. The reviews are pouring in, and they aren’t loving it. Besides, nothing gets moved to January on accident, and this is one title that Warner Bros. seems keen to forget. My one layer of concern? Tracking for Gangster Squad is in the mid-20s, but I’m predicting a weekend of $17.1 million. So I’ll either need weekend word-of-mouth to sink it or anticipation to wane, otherwise I’ll be sweating out Sunday (once again).

As for A Haunted House, it will get the Scary Movie crowd, but it’s only getting around 2,200 theaters to play with — not enough market saturation to make a big push — so I give it a shot at $13 million.

The only other story of the weekend is what effect the Lincoln have a healthy holdover, though I have no idea what sort of person wakes up and says, “Now what is this Lincoln Best Picture nod all about?”

Texas Chainsaw 3D will face a brutal comeuppance after winning last weekend, totally justified because it was the type of horror film that wins a January weekend (as opposed to the type I thought it was). Finally, I expect Django Unchained to hold strong and finish in second, though third place wouldn’t surprise me.

How say you? Have I shorted Les Miserables or Django Unchained in my quest to find the winner? Will the tracking numbers prove accurate, denying Zero Dark Thirty the win? Here’s your chance to predict, handle it responsibly!

SIDE NOTE: Some of the theater numbers below are estimates. We’ll have the actual counts in Sunday’s wrap-up article.

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