Lone Survivor shocked Hollywood this weekend with a blistering $38.9 million debut—the best of any war film since 9/11, says the Hollywood Reporter. Analysts tell USA Today that the Mark Wahlberg drama, about a US military mission gone wrong, fared well in the heartland thanks to a patriotic ad campaign. "Instead of focusing on the downer of a story, Universal's marketing has played up the movie's themes of courage and brotherhood," says an expert from Box Office Mojo. Filling out the top five are Frozen ($15.1 million), The Wolf of Wall Street ($9 million), newcomer The Legend of Hercules and American Hustle (both $8.6 million).
Meanwhile the darkly comedic August: Osage County, starring Meryl Streep and Julia Roberts, expanded to 905 screens for about $2.2 million, Entertainment Weekly reports. "The success of the film clearly speaks to the popularity of Meryl and Julia," said a Weinstein Company executive. The well-reviewed Her, about a writer who falls for his computer's operating system, grew to an extra 1,600 theaters and banked a soft $5 million. "This isn't about today's particular result, it's about feeding the film for upcoming weeks," said a Warner Bros. executive about the company's Oscar strategy. (Read more box office stories.)