Jessica Chastain, Isabelle Nelisse, Megan Charpentier in "Mama." (George Kraychyk / Universal…)
Arnold is looking at a scary weekend at the box office.
The low-budget horror movie "Mama" is expected to open at No. 1 with about $20 million, including Martin Luther King Day on Monday, according to people who have seen pre-release audience surveys.
Meanwhile, "The Last Stand," which marks former California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's first starring role in a decade, is expected to have a weak opening of about $12 million.
The weekend's other new release, "Broken City," a political thriller starring Mark Wahlberg and Russell Crowe, is looking at a similarly soft start.
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Coming after Sunday's Golden Globes ceremony, it's expected to be a competitive weekend among awards contenders as well.
"Silver Linings Playbook," for which Jennifer Lawrence won the award as best actress in a comedy or musical, will play nationwide for the first time and is expected to take in about $10 million. That's on top of the $43 million that the Weinstein Co. production has already grossed in limited release over nine weeks, a solid performance for a movie that cost about $21 million to make.
Golden Globe winners "Les Miserables," "Lincoln" and "Argo" are also expected to draw significant audiences.
"Zero Dark Thirty," for which Jessica Chastain won the award as best actress in a drama, appears particularly well positioned after its strong $24-million nationwide opening last weekend. It remains the top seller on ticketing website Fandango.
No. 1, however, is likely to go to "Mama," which stars Chastain and was produced by Guillermo Del Toro. Universal Pictures made the movie for about $15 million and has targeted a largely young, Latino and female audience.
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Lionsgate, meanwhile spent about $45 million on "The Last Stand," putting the action comedy, which co-stars Johnny Knoxville, in a bad financial position if it opens as expected. The movie, which is appealing primarily to men, also marks the U.S. debut of Korean director Kim Jee-Woon.
"Broken City" is also facing grim box-office news. Emmett/Furla Films spent about $35 million to produce the movie, with marketing support from New Regency Productions. Twentieth Century Fox is releasing the picture, which is drawing the most interest from older audiences.
This weekend will also be an important one overseas for awards contender "Django Unchained," which has racked up an impressive $128 million in the U.S. and Canada. Sony Pictures is releasing the Quentin Tarantino-directed slave revenge story throughout Europe and parts of Latin America.
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