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ZERO DARK THIRTY Box Office vs THE HURT LOCKER / BLACK HAWK DOWN

Zero Dark Thirty Osama bin Laden movieZero Dark Thirty vs. Black Hawk Down: Box office

[See previous post: "Zero Dark Thirty Weekend Box Office: Controversy Sells."] The not-so-good news: A less flattering comparison pits Kathryn Bigelow's Zero Dark Thirty against Ridley Scott's brainless, action-packed, war-as-a-videogame 2001 hit Black Hawk Down, which took in $28.61 million on its first weekend in wide release in mid-January 2002, according to data found at Box Office Mojo. In 2013 dollars, that would represent approximately $38m. (Photo: Kathryn Bigelow's Hunt for Osama bin Laden movie Zero Dark Thirty.)

Featuring Ewan McGregor, Josh Hartnett, Tom Sizemore, Eric Bana, and William Fichtner as U.S. military personnel stranded in Somalia, Black Hawk Down went on to gross $108.63 million in North America, in addition to a considerably more modest $64.35 million overseas. Relatively speaking, Zero Dark Thirty should follow a similar pattern: major interest in the United States; moderate interest (chiefly because of the Oscar buzz) to "who cares" elsewhere.

Of note: Black Hawk Down did get a Best Director Oscar nomination and three other nods, but not Best Picture. Zero Dark Thirty is up for Best Picture and is in the running in four other categories, but, as mentioned above, Best Director is not one of them.

The Hurt Locker international box office

I should add that The Hurt Locker collected $32.21 million outside North America – or about $15 million over its domestic cume. That international figure, however, had little to do with non-American moviegoers' interest in the Iraq War experiences of American troops. Instead, it had a lot to do with the film's Oscar buzz, as The Hurt Locker opened in most overseas territories in late 2009 / early 2010. Also worth noting is that the film earned more than 50 percent of its total international gross in only three territories: Japan, Australia, and Spain, where it opened between April/June 2010. And Oscar or no, The Hurt Locker still bombed in several major markets, including Italy, Brazil, Russia, the UK (where it opened in Sept. 2009), and Germany.

As of last Sunday, Zero Dark Thirty had collected $1.3 million at 232 Spanish screens – then its sole international opening. That's a solid debut, approximately $5,600 per theater, though hardly a phenomenal one as some publications have claimed. After all, a year ago Meryl Streep's The Iron Lady averaged $7,305 at 208 locations. The Iron Lady ended up at no. 36 on Spain's 2012 box office chart.

Official weekend box office estimates will be released Sunday morning. Weekend box office actuals come out on Monday.

Jessica Chastain toplines Zero Dark Thirty cast

Zero Dark Thirty stars Best Actress Oscar nominee Jessica Chastain, Joel Edgerton, Édgar Ramírez, Kyle Chandler, Jennifer Ehle, Mark Strong, Mark Duplass, James Gandolfini, Chris Pratt, Frank Grillo, and Stephen Dillane.

Kathryn Bigelow's Hunt for Osama bin Laden movie Zero Dark Thirty photo: Columbia Pictures.

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