3D scarer draws $23 million; 'Django' solid second with $20.1 mil

Lionsgate scarer “Texas Chainsaw 3D” buzzed through modest expectations, overperforming with $23 million and helping to boost the domestic box office, which was up roughly 8% over the year-ago frame. Overseas, “Life of Pi” started 2013 with a $60 million-plus bang, sailing past $300 million internationally.

Early Stateside tracking suggested a downturn from 2012, when Paramount’s micro-budgeted “The Devil Inside” scored a record-setting $34 million early January debut. And while “Chainsaw,” expected to land in the mid teens, failed to match that, healthy holdovers lifted totals to better-than-expected heights.

“We were hoping for the high teens, so this is a pleasant surprise,” said Lionsgate distribution prexy Richie Fay. “Coming off the holiday, there really has been nothing else for horror fans.”

The Weinstein Co.’s “Django Unchained” fell just 33% in its second full weekend, taking an estimated $20.1 million. Stateside cume is $106.4 million.

Meanwhile, Warner Bros.’ “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey” was dethroned after four weeks on top, dropping 45% — steeper than expected — with $17.5 million through Sunday. Stateside cume is nearly $264 million, and the worldwide tally is nearly $825 million, making “The Hobbit” the fourth-highest grossing release of 2012.

In fourth place this weekend at the domestic B.O., Universal’s “Les Miserables” grossed $16.7 million, down 41%, for a domestic cume of $103.6 million.

Expanding to north of 1,600 locations, Focus Features’ topical Matt Damon pic “Promised Land” had a soft weekend, fracking up only $4.3 million. Stateside cume is $4.7 million.

Lionsgate expanded Summit’s tsunami pic “The Impossible” to 572 locations, from which it tallied a solid $2.8 million. Domestic cume is $3.4 million, with $81.2 million from overseas plexes.

This Stateside frame has historically worked well for horror films as counterprogramming to more serious-minded awards fare. Other such scarers that kicked off the year right include 2006′s “Hostel,” with $19.6 million, and “My Bloody Valentine 3D,” which opened with $21.2 million in 2009. Both pics were also distributed by Lionsgate.

“Texas Chainsaw” attracted mostly women under 25, an audience breakdown typical of horror pics. The film received a C+ CinemaScore rating, more positive than normal for the genre. That means it could show slightly better legs than the average horror movie; pics in the genre tend to cume less than three times their domestic opening.

“Chainsaw” was able to play alongside the market’s more established holiday fare, as those films are more targeted toward adults.

Weinstein’s “Django Unchained” does have a solid under-25 contingency thanks to helmer Quentin Tarantino, but the pic’s R rating restricts teens. Also R-rated is “Silver Linings Playbook,” which Weinstein won’t take wide until Jan. 18.

“‘Django’ has a lot of gas left in the tank, and I don’t think we’ve even tapped it yet for ‘Playbook,’” said Weinstein distribution topper Erik Lomis.

“Les Mis,” meanwhile, is decidedly more adult, as are “Lincoln” and “Jack Reacher.” The latter two pics held well in their third and ninth frames, respectively. “Lincoln,” which is likely seeing a B.O. boost from its steady flow of kudos and nominations, has cumed almost $150 million domestically; “Reacher” nears $65 million.

At the international B.O., Fox’s “Pi” expanded to several key territories this weekend, including Russia, where it grossed $14.2 million — Fox’s fourth-largest opening there ever — and Australia, which contributed $8.3 million. The film, which has cumed nearly $400 million worldwide, has done boffo business in China, grossing $90 million, supplemented by hearty holdover perfs in the U.K., with $17.2 million, India ($14.5 million) and Taiwan ($14.4 million).

“The Hobbit” continued to hold well in places like Russia, where the film actually went up 8% from last weekend, and Japan, which was off just 4%. Pic’s cumed $36.4 million and $15.7 million, respectively, in those territories. Germany is the film’s highest-grossing territory to date with an estimated $74 million.

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