It seems unlikely that some variation on the statement, “I’ll see anything Jessica Chastain is in” reverberates through the living rooms of America. (Though it certainly should.) But Chastain’s much-joked-about prolificacy paid off over the weekend, as her latest films finished one-two at the box office. The biggest surprise was the exceptional performance of Mama, a Guillermo Del Toro-produced horror film, which crushed the competition with $28.1 million, a figure that far exceeded even the most generous estimates. Embedded in the numbers is a stat suggesting that maybe Chastain’s presence helped after all: Women comprised a hefty percentage (61%) of the audience. Zero Dark Thirty took $17.6 million for second, keeping itself in a contentious Oscar conversation. But the real news is the catastrophic performance of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s comeback vehicle The Last Stand, which posted a dismal $6.3 million for 10th place, despite getting the coveted A.V. Club bump. After spending a decade away to pursue an increasingly ignominious political career, Schwarzenegger has segued smoothly into a deeply unpopular film. Still, the big man has a slew of can’t-miss projects on the horizon, so hooray for him. Finally, Mark Wahlberg couldn’t replicate the Winter-dumping-ground success of last year’s Contraband: His Broken City grossed a worse-than-middling $9 million.
There’s little to report in the indie world, as the Common-starring Luv was the only new film to post numbers. And unflattering numbers they were: The film made $90,000 in 45 theaters, for a per screen average of [we’ll let you do the math on this one].