January has become this weirdly interesting time in cinema, and grown even more competitive. This weekend there’s three wide releases and an Oscar expansion, and all three wide releases look like they could be something. You have Arnold Schwarzenegger‘s first staring role in nearly a decade, a Mark Wahlberg/Russell Crowe thriller and a Guillermo del Toro-produced horror movie starring two-time Oscar nominee Jessica Chastain, on top of Silver Linings Playbook finally going into wide release. Like I said, weirdly interesting.

And ten or twenty years ago any of the new pictures this weekend would have been big summer movies… well, except maybe Mama. But Broken City stars Wahlberg and Russell Crowe and they’re A-listers in a movie that’s coming out in January. Which means that the star system is broken, or that 20th Century Fox has no faith in this film. Maybe a little of both, as Wahlberg’s Contraband made Universal a bit of money last year around the same time, and it’s likely Fox wants to follow that formula with a film that (other than its leads) doesn’t seem to be exceptionally expensive. Crowe gets second billing but maybe you shoot him out as quickly as possible, there’s ways this could have been done on a reasonable budget. So a near $20 Million opening and a $60-$70 Million final total with a little bit of international business should be enough.

Then there’s The Last Stand, which is a movie that gets over entirely on star power. But old star power. Is the return of Arnold enough to get butts in seats? Some butts, sure. It seems that part of the appeal of a film like this is that it should do stellar international numbers. But this should be an event, and it isn’t, not really.

Both are likely to be trumped by Mama, which is the right film for the moment. Horror movies often do well at this time of year, when name brands mean the least, for better or worse.

So let’s look at some numbers:

  1. Mama - $22.5 Million
  2. Broken City - $19.3 Million
  3. Zero Dark Thirty - $16.9 Million
  4. The Last Stand – $14.7 Million
  5. Silver Linings Playbook - $12 Million

Depending on when ballots are due, SLP could be hurt if mainstream audiences don’t go for it. Maybe a little, especially if it boils down to Lincoln vs. it. But Playbook has already made a quiet $40 Million, and so even if it only gets to $80 Million domestic, it’s had a successful run.

What are you going to watch this weekend?