''Texas Chainsaw'' movie kills rivals at North America box office

Mon Jan 7, 2013 4:02am EST
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By Lisa Richwine and Patricia Reaney

(Reuters) - The return of the bloody "Texas Chainsaw" franchise sliced up movie box office rivals with a surprise win over the weekend, grabbing an estimated $23 million in U.S. and Canadian ticket sales.

The new "Texas Chainsaw 3D" pulled past Quentin Tarantino Western "Django Unchained," the second place film from Friday through Sunday with $20 million. No. 3 movie "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey" grabbed $17.5 million.

Going into the weekend, box office forecasters did not think the revival of the 40-year-old "Texas Chainsaw" franchise had enough buzz to top the holiday releases that are adding to their tallies during the month of January, a typically slow time for moviegoing.

Marketing efforts for "Texas Chainsaw" paid off for distributor Lions Gate Entertainment, the studio behind the horror franchise.

Lions Gate ran a social media campaign aimed at its core horror fan base - mostly young men and women - and ran promotions during AMC Networks' TV zombie hit "The Walking Dead." The studio aimed for a broader audience with promotions during college football bowl games and other sports programs after Christmas.

"The numbers were a little bit more than expected," said Richie Fay, the president of domestic distribution for Lions Gate Entertainment.

"It is great to be No. 1. I think we held our own," he added.

Lions Gate spent about $20 million to promote the movie, which was produced by Millennium Films.   Continued...