There won't be much buzz at the box office on the first weekend of the new year, as only one new movie -- "Texas Chainsaw 3D" -- hits theaters nationwide.
The horror flick starring the serial killer made famous in 1974's "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre" is expected to debut with a respectable sum of about $16 million, according to people who have seen pre-release audience surveys. The movie is to premiere in a handful of theaters at 10 p.m. on Thursday, before expanding nationwide on Friday to 2,654 locations.
That won't be enough to unseat "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey" from the top position, where the Peter Jackson film has resided for the three weekends since its debut. The prequel to "The Lord of the Rings" trilogy will likely take in an additional $20 million during its fourth weekend in theaters, raising its domestic total to over $260 million by Sunday. "Texas Chainsaw 3D" will have to fight for the runner-up spot against "Django Unchained" and "Les Miserables," the Christmas releases that have been benefiting from strong word of mouth.
Meanwhile, the environmental drama "Promised Land" will expand from 25 to 1,500 locations this weekend. The film co-written by and starring Matt Damon and John Krasinski is likely to take in about $6 million after only a modest start in limited release last weekend.
"Texas Chainsaw 3D" was financed by Avi Lerner's Millennium Pictures for just under $20 million but is being distributed in North America by Lionsgate, which is spending about $20 million to market the horror film. Lionsgate did not screen the movie for critics, typically an indication that a studio feels its film will not be embraced by reviewers.