Lone Survivor’ is winning its box-office battle

"Lone Survivor"

Coming into the weekend, the military action drama “Lone Survivor” was expected to take in $20 million to $25 million at the box office — a decent if hardly overwhelming number for a movie that cost about $40 million to make.

But when final numbers came in Monday afternoon, the Universal Pictures release had outperformed even the most optimistic forecasts and nearly made its production costs back: It tallied $37.9 million, the second-biggest opening ever in the month of January.

The movie, which stars Mark Wahlberg, has turned into the first wide-release hit of 2014 and, perhaps more improbably, become a modern wartime film with mass appeal. An adaptation of Navy SEAL Marcus Luttrell’s bestselling 2009 memoir about a deadly mission in the mountains of Afghanistan, “Lone Survivor” is on pace to take in more than $100 million — a mark reached by only three live-action releases in the first quarter of 2013.

 

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