After three weeks of holding tight in 5 theaters, Kathryn Bigelow's "Zero Dark Thirty" expanded to 60 theaters this weekend and showed no signs of slowing down. On Friday night the acclaimed, controversial film grossed $825,000 for a $13,750 average. That puts it on track for a weekend gross in the $2.2-$2.5 million range, which would give it a stunning average of over $40,000. That certainly bodes well for next weekend's wide expansion, which comes a day after the Oscar nominations (where it will surely do quite well).
Also hanging on strong were two other films that -- to varying degrees -- could also benefit from the Oscar nominations. "Silver Linings Playbook" and "The Impossible" were on middle-range screen counts this weekend (745 and 572, respectively). The former is heading for a $3.4-$3.6 million weekend, while the latter could hit around $2.5 million. That would firmly place both films in an extremely competitive overall top 20 and give them averages in the $4,000s.
Not fairing so well was the second weekend of Gus Van Sant's "Promised Land," which expanded aggressively from 25 to 1,676 theaters. The result was a $1,314,000 Friday gross, and a likely $3.7-$3.9 million weekend. That would give it a so-so average just north of $2,000 and a new total of about $4 million.
Check back tomorrow for a full weekend box office report.