All Hail the Ginger Lady

Given that Mama and Zero Dark Thirty weren’t exactly sold on the back of the woman who stars in both of them, headlines such as “Chastain films take top 2 spots at box office” feel like a bit of an exaggeration.

(The real story for this weekend, it seems to me, is the failure of The Last Stand to draw the Expendables old-dude audience back to the megaplex, especially when it’s a far more successful and entertaining project than either of Sylvester Stallone’s exercises in thick-necked self-love.)

Mama made $28.1 million; Zero Dark Thirty, 17.6 million. Third-place Silver Linings Playbook, presumably bolstered by all those wildly unwarranted Oscar nominations, made just $11.4 million. (The Last Stand opened in tenth place with just $6.3 million despite being the best action movie released in a good long while, demonstrating that the world has gone insane.)

Still: Two movies starring the same person topped the charts this weekend, which by the laws of Hollywood mints Chastain as a geniuine box-office star. In the linked piece, CP writer Jake Coyle even mentions how bizarre this situation is — she’s always specialized in character work in idiosyncratic projects, rather than chasing blockbuster wannabes; The Help is her only project to actively court mainstream success.

The best thing about this? Although she’s now officially a marketable actress, we will not be seeing her turning up in Trans4mers or Fast & Furious 7 or Hansel, Gretel and a Suspiciously Red-Headed Goldilocks. She’s too smart for that — and way too talented. This just means the directors Chastain wants to work with will have an easier time getting their funding together — as it should be.

(A portion of this blog post was financially supported by the Association to Cast Jessica Chastain in Everything.)

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