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Weekend Box Office: Audiences Smuggle ‘Contraband’ Into The Number One Spot Over ‘Beauty & The Beast 3D’

Weekend Box Office: Audiences Smuggle 'Contraband' Into The Number One Spot Over 'Beauty & The Beast 3D'

After a year which sported the lowest attendance numbers in sixteen years, studios are looking for all the bright sides they can find. Thus far, 2012 has provided them, with big number one debuts for a cheap horror acquisition and, now, a solidly mid-budgeted star vehicle. “Contraband” nailed the top spot this weekend, of the four day holiday weekend, that was slightly down from last year. However, this is a solid win for Universal, who spent $40 million on the Mark Wahlberg project, gambling that the film would open uncharacteristically big for an R-rated January offering.

Wahlberg’s one of those curious leading men, as no one seems to know if he’s an A-Lister. He’s got an Oscar nomination under his belt, but of the five $100 million domestic hits he’s had so far, he was only the lead in “The Italian Job” and the franchise-killing “Planet Of The Apes.” But if you’ve got him in the lead role, he’s almost a lock for at least a $50-$60 million final gross. Interestingly, his vehicles are never very expensive, as he’s also one of the few current stars that doesn’t need special effects or fantasy settings to be a compelling screen presence.

In a very close second place was “Beauty And The Beast 3D,” which came in under the “The Lion King” re-release last fall. Which was to be expected, as few Disney titles have the cachet of “The Lion King,” but this is still a big number for an older title. Disney has further 3D re-releases coming, the next one being “Finding Nemo,” but this business model could certainly impress non-Disney studios as well, now that the strength of catalog titles has weakened thanks to a softening DVD market.

With it’s biggest drop yet, and still holding steady, is “Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol,” which solidly passed the first film’s domestic gross. A canny global expansion had led to even bigger numbers overseas, and the second film’s $546 million tally is well within reach. There was always a decent-sized gap between the ‘M:I’ movies, but with Tom Cruise‘s dance card filling up and his age advancing, it will be interesting to see if Paramount is able to properly capitalize on what’s surely the most well-received film in the series.

Joyful Noise” came and went, opening at a number significantly higher than a Queen LatifahDolly Parton joint should. It was followed by the “Sherlock Holmes” sequel that is definitely benefiting from having less competition than its predecessor. At this rate, it’s performance compared to the original film will not be unlike how “Iron Man 2” followed its original, as ‘Game Of Shadows’ is on pace to be weaker domestically, but somewhat more robust overseas. And don’t look now, but “The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo” could conceivably cross $100 million in the next week or two should it continue to stay in the mix (or get an Oscar nomination boost), and with stronger-than-expected early grosses internationally, the film is looking like one of winter’s stronger performers.

Dropping far out of first was “The Devil Inside.” Depending on final estimates, the found-footage horror film could drop as much as 80% from it’s smash opening weekend. Pretty disastrous, even for a horror film, and in the neighborhood of the shocking 80% second weekend plummet that met “Friday The 13th.” “The Devil Inside” was so cheap that its likely the studio expected, and didn’t even care about, this second weekend performance, so even with such a mass exodus, Paramount is just swimming in it.

War Horse” and “We Bought A Zoo” are still holding moderately well, but neither is going to finish with breakout numbers. Losing a number of theaters in week five was the latest “Chipmunks” movie, as Fox finally cut bait with the understanding the film will finish considerably lower than the last two films. And rounding out the top ten, surging with a solid expansion was “The Iron Lady,” with a decent per-screen on only 802 screens.

In limited release, the biggest numbers are coming, surprisingly, from “A Dangerous Method.” The Sony Pictures Classics release has expanded as slowly as most SPC titles do, but in week eight it’s still averaging $5k per-screen, moving over 100 engagements for the first time. The film is at $2.8 million, and seems to have caught on with the arthouse contingent. In less engagements, the $44k score for “We Need To Talk About Kevin” was achieved on only two screens, while “Pina” averaged $18k at six locations bringing its three week total to a solid $540k despite a very limited release. 

Extremely Loud And Incredibly Close” brought in solid numbers on six screens, $88k added to a $632k total before the film’s coming wide release. “A Separation” also gathers heat on six screens with a $13k average and an $80k gross to add to a $322k tally. And the doc “Sing Your Song” (which had already debuted on HBO last year) had a quiet opening weekend with $12k on two screens. Support your local arthouse theater, boys and girls.

1. Contraband (Universal) – $24.1 million
2. Beauty And The Beast 3D (Disney) – $18.5 million
3. Tom Cruise Workout Tape Vol. 4 (Paramount) – $11.5 million ($187 mil.)
4. Joyful Noise (Warner Bros.) – $11.3 million
5. Sherlock Holmes: Sherlock Holmesin’ (Warner Bros.) – $8.4 million ($170 mil.)
6. Tatted-Up Vengeance Chick Who Likes Dragons (Sony) – $8.3 million ($88 mil.)
7. The Devil Inside (Paramount) – $7.9 million ($46 mil.)
8. Alvin And The Chipmunks: Chipwich (Fox) – $5.8 million ($119 mil.)
9. War Horse (Disney) – $5.6 million ($66 mil.)
10. The Iron Lady (Weinstein) – $5.4 million ($6 mil.)

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