Gangster Squad, Zero Dark Thirty

Warner Bros. Pictures; Columbia Pictures

After a rough week of protests and Oscar snubs, Zero Dark Thirty kicked back and enjoyed at the box office.

In its wide-release debut, the Osama bin Laden manhunt thriller led all films with an estimated $24 million Friday-Sunday.

The all-star Gangster Squad settled for a third-place start with a so-so $16.7 million.

For Zero Dark Thirty, living well was indeed the best revenge. Two of its top three-grossing screens on Friday night were in Washington, D.C., ground zero for criticism of the film's torture scenes. 

The Kathryn Bigelow Best Picture nominee, which shockingly failed to secure Bigelow a Best Director nod, drew from primarily an older male audience.

The 1940s-set Gangster Squad, meanwhile, attracted a younger crowd that was evenly split between men and Ryan Gosling-admiring women. 

The shoot-'em movie arrived in theaters months after its Summer 2012 date was scrapped in deference to the Aurora, Colo., theater shooting. Its Friday-Sunday take was well below that of Public Enemies, the Johnny Depp-led period crime movie that opened to $25.3 million in 2009.

A Haunted House, Marlon Wayans' send-up of the Paranormal Activity movies which was unburdened no history greater than Dance Flick, ended up making more money per theater than Zero Dark Thirty. Overall, the comedy, which played at 2,160 theaters to Zero Dark's nearly 3,000, took second in the standings with $18.8 million. (For those keeping score at home, Wayans' Dance Flick debuted to more than $25 million in 2009.)

Elsewhere, Les Misérables opened in the United Kingdom, and opened very, very big, zooming past the $200 million mark worldwide, while Steven Spielberg's Lincoln crossed $150 million domestically. Overall, half of the weekend's Top 10 films were newly minted Best Picture nominees.

Texas Chainsaw 3D, last weekend's No. 1 film, crashed hard, dropping to ninth, with $5.2 million.

In limited release, Chris Colfer's Struck by Lightning didn't do much ($17,500 at eight screens), while the Dustin Hoffman-directed Quartet made a lot of noise at just two theaters ($50,000).

Tom Cruise's Jack Reacher and Judd Apatow's This Is 40 both exited the Top 10 after uninspiring domestic runs of $72.8 million and $61.6 million respectively. 

Here's a complete look at the weekend's top movies, per studio estimates and stats as compiled per Exhibitor Relations:

  1. Zero Dark Thirty, $24 million
  2. A Haunted House, $18.8 million
  3. Gangster Squad, $16.7 million
  4. Django Unchained, $11.1 million
  5. Les Misérables, $10.1 million
  6. The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, $9.1 million
  7. Lincoln, $6.3 million
  8. Parental Guidance, $6.1 million
  9. Texas Chainsaw 3D, $5.2 million
  10. Silver Linings Playbook, $5 million
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