Zero Dark Thirty, Kathryn Bigelow's controversial film about the hunt for Osama bin Laden, stormed the top spot at the North American box office, preliminary figures showed on Sunday.
Zero Dark Thirty took a solid $24 million in its first weekend on national release, far outpacing two newcomers: comedy A Haunted House and Sean Penn crime saga Gangster Squad with $18.8 million and $16.7 million respectively.
They were trailed by Quentin Tarantino's brutal Western Django Unchained, in the fourth spot, which earned $11.1 million according to box office tracker Exhibitor Relations.
Musical adaptation Les Miserables, took fifth place, raking in $10.1 million.
In this photo released by Columbia Pictures Industries, Inc., Jessica Chastain (C) plays a role in Columbia Pictures' new thriller, Zero Dark Thirty. AP Photo
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, the long-awaited first part of Peter Jackson's Lord of the Rings prequel trilogy, was in sixth spot, racking up $9 million, for a total of $278 million so far.
Steven Spielberg's multi Oscar-nominated biopic Lincoln, starring Daniel Day-Lewis, was in seventh place in the standings, taking in $6.3 million for a total of $152.6 million so far.
In the number eight spot, Parental Guidance, a comedy starring Billy Crystal and Bette Midler looking after their grandchildren, earned $6.1 million.
Texas Chainsaw 3D was in ninth, with the latest offering in the horror franchise, first launched in 1974 but now in 21st century 3D gore, taking in $5.15 million.
Rounding out the top 10 was Silver Linings Playbook, a dark drama with Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence, earned $5 million, and which with eight Oscar nominations last week was regarded as a surprise package.
Final box office figures are released on Monday.