Contraband Slays Disney’s 3D Beast to Top Weekend Box Office With $24.1 Million

Contraband Slays Disney's 3D Beast to Top Weekend Box Office With $24.1 MillionThe Martin Luther King Jr. holiday weekend saw business at the North American box office continue to show signs of life as the new Mark Wahlberg action flick Contraband and the 3D reissue of Walt Disney’s Beauty and the Beast bowed to solid numbers, while Warner’s Joyful Noise didn’t make too much noise in its mediocre debut down in fourth place.

A year after his last film, the two-time Oscar winner The Fighter, Mark Wahlberg finds himself back in action territory with Contraband. The story of a former criminal (Wahlberg) forced back into one last score to help out his brother-in-law opened on 2,863 screens and smuggled an estimated $24.1 million in its first three days for a solid per screen average of $8,418. The film, co-starring Kate Beckinsale and Giovanni Ribisi, got the cold shoulder from critics (46% approval on Rotten Tomatoes). It was, however, warmly received by ticket buyers who gave the action flick an ‘A-‘ via CinemaScore exit polling. This should translate into another hit for Wahlberg.

After scoring an unprecedented $95 million at the box office last fall with a 3D reissue of The Lion King, Disney decided to reissue its 1991 classic Beauty and the Beast this weekend. While the results for Beast were not as huge as King’s $30.1 million debut last September, it’s $18.4 million estimated opening on 2,625 screens was cause for the Mouse House to be happy nonetheless.

Much like King, the reissue of Beast gave families the opportunity to experience a beloved Disney classic on the big screen for the first time. The 3D conversion for Beauty and the Beast was actually completed prior to the one done on The Lion King, but was shelved when the 3D reissue of the first two Toy Story films underperformed a few years ago at the box office. Beast was reissued to the home video market on DVD and premiered on Blu-ray in the fall of 2010. A Blu-ray 3D edition made its debut in October of 2011.

Paramount’s Christmas hit Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol starring Tom Cruise continued their winning ways in its fifth weekend as the action flick eased 42% to bring in an estimated $11.5 million on 3,346 screens. To date, the domestic total stands at a great $186.7 million. The film passed the $181 million final gross of the 1996 original this past week, although that movie sold significantly more tickets than this film has done so far. The new movie should be able to surpass the $215 million earned by the 2000 sequel by the end of its domestic run. Overseas, the film has earned a big $320 million to bring its global haul just over a half billion dollars thus far.

In fourth place was the third debut of the weekend, Warner’s gospel comedy Joyful Noise starring Queen Latifah and Dolly Parton. The critically-panned film (a less-than-heavenly 34% on Rotten Tomatoes) opened in 2,735 to a lukewarm $11.3 million and a per screen average of $4,148. While the reviews were mostly negative and the opening grosses a bit on the flat side, the movie did earn an ‘A-‘ CinemaScore rating from viewers which may help the film sustain itself over the next week or two.

Warner also held the number five position with its holiday hit Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows. The sequel dropped a modest 39% to earn an estimated $8.4 million to bring its domestic haul to $170 million. The film has earned a big $220 million in foreign sales since opening last month.

After opening to record numbers last weekend, Paramount’s The Devil Inside met its maker and fell a huge 76.6% to earn an estimate $7.9 million. The steep drop was attributed to dire word-of-mouth but a quick fade shouldn’t upset Paramount too much. The film was made for $1 million, and even with marketing factored in it has still turned a profit for the studio after only ten days. Devil’s total currently stands at $46.2 million and should head off to home video purgatory with about $55-60 million.

The remainder of the top ten was as follows:

7. The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo (2011) (Sony Pictures) $6.8 million (off 40% from last weekend) $88 million to date.

8. Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked (Fox) $5.8 million (-39%) $118.7 million

9. War Horse (Dreamworks/Disney) $5.6 million (-35%) $65.7 million

10. The Iron Lady (The Weinstein Company) $5.38 million (first week of wide release) $6 million

Next weekend sees the arrival of four new films: Sony will debut Underworld: Awakening, Warner will expand Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close into wide release, Relativity will debut the latest from Steven Soderbergh, the action film Haywire, while Fox/Lucasfilm will open the World War II drama Red Tails.

– Shawn Fitzgerald

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