The Hollywood Reporter -- Quentin Tarantino's Django Unchained came in No. 1 at the box office Wednesday for the first time.
Django -- from The Weinstein Co. and starring Jamie Foxx, Christoph Waltz and Leonardo DiCaprio -- grossed $4.6 million to unseat New Line and MGM's The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, which took in $4.4 million for a new domestic total of $242.5 million (Hobbit was expected to jump the $500 million mark internationally Thursday).
Hobbit and Django, earning $82.4 million since its Christmas Day opening, could find themselves in a close race for the top spot at the North American box office this weekend, with each predicted to gross in the $18 million to $20 million range.
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Others caution against ruling out Universal's Les Miserables, which took in $3.6 million on Thursday for a domestic total of $84.2 million. The film adaptation of the hit stage musical, with an ensemble cast including Hugh Jackman, Anne Hathaway and Russell Crowe, is expected go gross $16 million to $18 million.
Hollywood is hoping for a final burst of moviegoing as the 2012 year-end holidays officially come to a close. Because New Year's Day fell on a Tuesday, many schools and colleges are off until Monday, and many parents are still off work. However, the box office will have to compete with the first round of the NFL playoffs Saturday and Sunday.
Among the films opening Friday, Texas Chainsaw 3D is projected to come in No. 4 unless the horror movie exceeds prerelease tracking. From Lionsgate, the movie picks up where Tobe Hooper's 1974 slasher classic The Texas Chainsaw Massacre left off.
Lionsgate, which is distributing Chainsaw 3D on behalf of Millennium Films and has limited exposure, is predicting an opening in the $15 million range.
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After a modest start in limited runs, the Matt Damon-John Krasinski drama Promised Land expands nationwide, upping its theater count from 25 to 1,675. Directed by Gus Van Sant, the Focus Features and Participant Media film has earned $294,000 since its Dec. 28 debut.
From a script by Damon and Krasinski, Promised Land is about a salesman (Damon) for a natural gas company trying to persuade a small town to allow fracking. Krasinski plays a would-be environmentalist, while Frances McDormand plays the salesman's partner.
Naomi Watts and Ewan McGregor's The Impossible, about a family struggling to survive the 2004 tsunami in Thailand, makes a more modest expansion this weekend, upping its theater count from 15 to 572. The Summit film has grossed $628,000 since opening Dec. 21.
Among holdovers, 20th Century Fox's family-friendly comedy Parental Guidance should stay high up on the chart. The movie is playing particularly well in Middle America and has grossed $40.7 million to date. The film starring Billy Crystal, Bette Midler and Marisa Tomei has been holding steady at No. 4 since its Dec. 25 debut.
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