LOS ANGELES, USA (AP) — It took Leatherface and his chainsaw to chase tiny hobbit Bilbo Baggins out of the top spot at the box office.
Lionsgate's horror sequel Texas Chainsaw 3-D debuted at No 1 with US$23 million, according to studio estimates yesterday. The movie picks up where 1974's The Texas Chainsaw Massacre left off, with masked killer Leatherface on the loose again.
Quentin Tarantino's revenge saga Django Unchained held on at No 2 for a second-straight weekend with US$20.1 million. The Weinstein Co release raised its domestic total to US$106.4 million.
After three weekends at No 1, part one of Peter Jackson's The Hobbit trilogy slipped to third with US$17.5 million. That lifts the domestic haul to US$263.8 million for The Hobbit, the Warner Bros. blockbuster that also has topped US$500 million overseas to raise its worldwide total to about US$800 million.
Also passing the US$100-million mark over the weekend was Universal's musical Les Miserables, which finished at No 4 with US$16.1 million, pushing its domestic total to $103.6 million.
Like other horror franchises, Texas Chainsaw Massacre has had several other remakes or sequels, but the idea always seems ripe for a new wave of fright-flick fans. Nearly two-thirds of the audience was under 25, too young — or not even born — when earlier Texas Chainsaw Massacre movies came out.
"It's one of those that survives each generation. It's something that continues to come back and entertain its audience," said Richie Fay, head of distribution for Lionsgate.
Texas Chainsaw drew a hefty 84 per cent of its business from 3-D screenings. Many movies now draw 50 per cent or less of their revenue from 3-D screenings, but horror fans tend to prefer paying extra to see blood and guts fly with an added dimension.
In narrower release, Matt Damon's natural-gas fracking drama Promised Land had a slow start in its nationwide debut, coming in at No 10 with US$4.3 million after opening in limited release a week earlier.
Released by Focus Features, Promised Land stars Damon as a salesman pitching rural residents on fracking technology to drill for natural gas. The film widened to 1,676 theatres, averaging a slim US$2,573 a cinema, compared with US$8,666 in 2,654 theatres for Texas Chainsaw.
Hollywood began the year where it left in 2012, when business surged during the holidays to carry the industry to a record US$10.8 billion at the domestic box office.
Overall business this weekend came in at US$149 million, up 7 per cent from the same period last year, when The Devil Inside led with US$33.7 million, according to box-office tracker Hollywood.com. But with strong business on New Year's Day last week, Hollywood already has raked in US$254.2 million, 33 per cent ahead of last year.