One Oscar contender expands and two very different films hit theaters. Will any connect with audiences?

“Zero Dark Thirty” is in the strongest position to have the biggest debut. It’s already stirred up controversy and acclaim, being nominated for some Oscars. And after performing well in a very limited released, it hits nationwide. Expect this one to open near “Argo” type numbers but not hold up quite as well in the long run.

Opening weekend: $21-23 million

“Gangster Squad” starring Ryan Gosling, Emma Stone, Josh Brolin, Sean Penn and a lot more. This one is the first true period piece since “Public Enemies” and the trailers really play up that this is a more modern “Untouchables”. But reviews have been mixed and, at least for me, something about the trailers just didn’t get me too excited. Still, expect it to be hot on the heels of “Zero Dark Thirty”.

Opening weekend: $18-20 million

The final new movie of the weekend is “A Haunted House” starring Marlon Wayans, who helped start the most recent spoof movie trend way back last decade with “Scary Movie” (ironically “Scary Movie 5” hits theaters later this year). I hope this one bombs because frankly the movie looks dumb. And it faces stiff competition for the young male audience, but it should draw in enough to get into the mid to high teens.

Opening weekend: $15-17 million

Lukas Eggen can be reached at