The prequel to "The Lord of the Rings" trilogy will rack up an estimated $19.8 million, which will leave it with a stateside haul of more than $260 million. Also profiting from the lack of many major new releases will be Christmas season-holdovers "Django Unchained" and "Les Misrables," which will vie with each other for the runner-up spot at the box office.
Give the edge to the Quentin Tarantino revenge flick in this particular matchup, as tracking indicates the film will earn $18.5 million this weekend and push its domestic haul over the $100 million mark.
"Les Misrables," which is showing on roughly 200 fewer screens than "Django Unchained," will likely gross an additional $17.3 million. The adaptation of the Victor Hugo novel and hit Broadway musical has so far netted $84.2 million through Wednesday.
That leaves a blood-drenched monster rehash looking to carve up fourth place. "Texas Chainsaw 3D" will be the only wide-release film to premiere over the weekend, and studio estimates anticipate it will attract $15 million in ticket sales. The film was produced by Millennium Pictures for roughly $20 million and will be distributed by Lionsgate, with the later spending $20 million to market and promote the picture.
Just as fans of the venerable series of splatter-pictures would expect, the latest installment finds human flesh-loving Leatherface having more gory adventures in tool-wielding, but this time with added dimensionality. It will premiere at 10 p.m. Thursday in select theaters and will expand this weekend to 2,654 locations in North America.
Also trying to elbow in on the action this weekend will be the environmental drama "Promised Land." Co-starring and co-written by Matt Damon and John Krasinski, the Focus Features drama will expand from 25 to 1,600 theaters in its second week of release.
Reviews for the film have been mediocre, with "Promised Land" scoring only a 45 percent "rotten" ranking on critics aggregator Rotten Tomatoes. More damagingly, awards attention has been nil, which will make it more difficult for the film to break through a crowded field of Oscar contenders. Produced for $15 million in conjunction with Participant Media, "Promised Land" should earn roughly $4 million this weekend.
Thanks in part to a dearth of family-friendly offerings, "Parental Guidance" will continue to show strength at the multiplexes. The Billy Crystal-Bette Midler grandparents comedy should add $10 million to its domestic total, pushing it past $50 million after two weeks of release.
Other holiday leftovers "Jack Reacher" and "This is 40" will see their box office takes drop slightly from last weekend. The Tom Cruise action film will likely gross $9.5 million, while the Judd Apatow marital comedy should sell $8.5 million worth of tickets.
In addition to "Promised Land," "The Impossible" will expand from 15 theaters to a little more than 500 this weekend. The tsunami drama stars Naomi Watts and Ewan McGregor and is being distributed by Summit Entertainment. It has grossed $628,644 since premiering in limited release on December 21.