Box Office: ‘Lone Survivor’ completes mission with $38 million weekend

Director Peter Berg had something of a comeback this weekend as his passion project, “Lone Survivor,” took the top spot at the box office with an impressive $38.5 million in its first weekend of wide release. The true story of a NAVY SEALS squad that was ambushed on a mission in Afghanistan in 2005, the Mark Wahlberg thriller had the second biggest January expansion/debut in history and overperformed considering its core audience spent much of the weekend watching the NFL Playoffs.  Plus, with a reported budget of just $40 million it will be a much more profitable picture than Berg’s last Universal outing, the disastrous “Battleship.”

Continuing to entertain family audiences in the second slot was Disney’s blockbuster “Frozen.”  The animated movie musical skated to another $15 million and has now earned $317.6 million domestically and over $712 million globally.

Perhaps assisted by continuing controversy, Martin Scorsese’s “The Wolf of Wall Street” took in another $9 million for $78.5 million to date. “Wolf” will be looking for a significant number of Oscar nominations on Thursday to keep the box office party going.

“The Legend of Hercules” scored an impossibly low 2% on Rotten Tomatoes, but somehow managed to eke out $8.6 million for fourth place. Needless to say, the Kellan Lutz B-movie won’t be in theaters long and will be looking to recoup it’s $70 million budget overseas.

“American Hustle” danced its way to $8.6 million and crossed the magic $100 million mark with $101.5 million so far.  The Sony Pictures and Annapurna Pictures production should be a major profit center with just a $40 million budget. It should expect a boost next weekend after landing an expected suitcase of Academy Awards nods and likely taking the Best Comedy or Musical honor at the Golden Globes tonight.

Amongst expanding films, “August: Osage County” had a solid jump to 905 theaters and earned another $7.3 million for $7.86 million to date.  Spike Jonze’s critically acclaimed “Her” did not expand as hoped and found just $5.4 million in 1,729 for $8.8 million cume. Both films will look for Globes wins and Oscar nods to pump up the rest of their theatrical runs.

Next weekend is a crowded Martin Luther King Day frame as “Ride Along,” “Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit,” “The Nut Job” and “Devil’s Due” all debut