Box Office: Can “Zero Dark Thirty” hold off “Gangster Squad” and “Haunted House”?

Three movies go into wide release today. One of them will win the weekend box office race. Will it be the Oscar buzzed/Oscar nominated “Zero Dark Thirty” or the moved-to-January-because-it-had-no-Oscar buzz “Gangster Squad”?

Here’s my review of “Zero Dark Thirty,” in case you missed it.

Are film fans OVER Marlon Wayans and his “Scary Movie” riffs on horror, or will “A Haunted House” fill his bank account anew?

How will “Django,” “Lincoln,” “Les Mis” and “Silver Linings Playbook” and “The Impossible” do with their extra Oscar oomph?

Box office Mojo figures “Zero Dark Thirty,” despite the long running time, lack of “name” stars and torture-centric nature, will own this weekend and earn $25 million or so, with “Gangster” following close behind.

That’s pretty generous, according to the Box Office Guru, who figures “Zero” will win the weekend with just $18 million in its first weekend of wide release. It’s done great business on just a hand full of screens over the past several weeks. Will those per-screen averages remain when it’s on thousands of screens?

“Gangster Squad” (my review of this Gangster Western is here) has a lot of advertising and a lot of stars. It should clear $20 million.

I usually split the difference between these two prognosticators — maybe “Gangster” and “Zero Dark” will pull in very low $20s — fight it out in the $21-22 range.

“A Haunted House,” which opened late Thursday (I was there — review is here), should do $12. “Django” will probably get an Oscar bump. Or not. Still mid teens. “Texas Chainsaw,” the “massacre” deleted to remove connections to Sandy Hook, will fall off dramatically. Way below $10 this weekend.

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