Kathryn Bigelow’s Zero Dark Thirty is beating period mob pic Gangster Squad at the Friday box office, opening up the possibility of a weekend victory for the controversial film.

Box office observers say Zero Dark Thirty — about the decade-long hunt for Osama bin Laden — could gross $23 million to $24 million for the weekend, if not more. The movie, which has been playing in a limited run since Dec. 19, earned five Oscar nominations on Thursday, including one for best picture.

Gangster Squad, from Warner Bros., is projected to open in the low $20 million range based on Friday matinee business, in line with expectations. Heading into the weekend, observers predicted a close race between the two films.

The Hollywood Reporter