Even as controversy swirls around the film regarding its accuracy and portrayal of interrogation techniques, Bin Laden hunt thriller Zero Dark Thirty scored a resounding victory at the American box office this weekend, expanding screens and landing at the top for the first time. And though Kathryn Bigelow missed out on a Best Director Oscar nomination, she’ll likely be happy to see her latest film make $24 million in one weekend.
The solid win beat out two new arrivals, and there was room for another surprise as horror spoof A Haunted House trumped Gangster Squad for second place. That’s despite the latter film boasting much bigger names and enjoying a massive, all-media marketing campaign. Still, Haunted House director Michael Tiddes and co-writer Marlon Wayans pulled it off, making $18.1 million. Rueben Fleischer’s based-on-truth tale of cops ‘n’ mobsters, meanwhile, could only manage $16.7 million.
Elsewhere, Django Unchained fell to fourth with $11 million, while Les Miserables was down to fifth and scored $10.1 million this weekend.
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey sank from third to sixth, earning $9 million, while Lincoln actually rose one place to seventh with $6.3 million. At eighth we find Parental Guidance ($6.1 million), Texas Chainsaw 3D fell rapidly down to ninth with $5.1 million and Silver Linings Playbook added screens and jumped up a couple of places to 10th and $5 million.
To see the CIA take out ghosts and gangsters in the charts, head to Box Office Mojo.