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MLK Weekend Box Office: 'Contraband' Steals Thunder from 3-D 'Beauty and the Beast' UPDATED

Thompson on Hollywood By Brian Fuson | Thompson on Hollywood January 16, 2012 at 1:26PM

With three new films opening in wide release, Universal’s “Contraband” easily captured the top spot at the boxoffice. During the four-day Martin Luther King Jr. holiday weekend the Working Title film tracked an estimated $28.8 million at theaters, which exceeded pre-release expectations, which had “Contraband” and “Beauty” in a race for the top spot. The opening marked a company best for Working Title. Mark Wahlberg and Kate Beckinsale star in the R-rated action thriller, about a criminal who has given up his errant ways and gets pulled back into the business one more time.
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Mark Wahlberg and Ben Foster in 'Contraband'
Working Title/Universal Mark Wahlberg and Ben Foster in 'Contraband'

With three new films opening in wide release, Universal’s “Contraband” easily captured the top spot at the boxoffice. During the four-day Martin Luther King Jr. holiday weekend the Working Title film tracked an estimated $28.8 million at theaters, which exceeded pre-release expectations, which had “Contraband” and “Beauty” in a race for the top spot. The opening marked a company best for Working Title. Mark Wahlberg and Kate Beckinsale star in the R-rated action thriller, about a criminal who has given up his errant ways and gets pulled back into the business one more time.

Disney cashed in on the re-release of the 1991 classic “Beauty and the Beast” as the animated feature, with a 3-D makeover cost of around $10 million, arrived in the second spot with an estimated $23.5 million from 2,625 theaters, well above projections.

Overall, the four-day Martin Luther King Jr. holiday frame proved solid as the total for all films was an estimated $165 million, up nearly 4% from last year’s MLK holiday session.  It marks the second consecutive up weekend of the short year.  Last year at this time Sony’s “The Green Hornet” debuted with $33.5 million and Universal’s “The Dilemma” opened with $17.8 million.

This weekend’s third new film, Warner Bros.’ $25-million “A Joyful Noise,” landed in the fourth slot with a lukewarm estimate of $13.8 million, below projections of $15 million. The comedy from director Todd Graff, starring Dolly Parton and Queen Latifah, didn’t please critics either as the film garnered a low 35% on RottenTomatoes, but 69% of audiences liked the film. Business for “Noise” may pick up a bit on Monday due to Martin Luther King holiday.

Likewise, while Baltasar Kormakur's “Contraband” only generated a 46% rating on the Tomatometer, 75% of audiences liked the film and it earned an A- in CinemaScore, so it should show some legs. Its audience was split evenly between males and females and skewed slightly older with 55% over 30.  The $25-million “Contraband” was co-financed by Universal and Relativity.

Of the frame's three new arrivals, “Beauty and the Beast” had the best reviews by far with a stellar 91% positive grade and 86% of moviegoers giving the G-rated film a thumbs up.

The Weinstein Company’s “The Iron Lady” shot up into the top 12 this weekend for the first time, taking in an estimated $6.47 million as the distributor added 797 theaters to bring the count to 802.  The Meryl Streep vehicle, based on the rise and fall of Margaret Thatcher as Prime Minister of England, placed eleventh as it averaged $8,072 per theater and has a cume of around $7.06 million.

Paramount’s “Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol” held in well in the third spot with an estimated $14.2 million, down 29% from a week earlier, in 209 fewer theaters. The Tom Cruise sequel is nearing the $200 million mark with an estimated $189.45 million to date. With an international total of nearly $320 million, the total worldwide cume stands at around $509.45 million.

As expected, last weekend’s boxoffice wunderkind, Paramount’s Insurge Pictures’ “The Devil Inside” took a precipitous 73% drop this session– which is all the worse considering that this is a four-day weekend as compared with a three-day.  The ultra low budget horror film dropped from first to sixth place with an estimated $9.18 million, advancing the cume to around $47.52 million. But with a production cost of $1 million the film is already well in the black.

Warner Bros.’ “Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows” took the fifth slot with an estimated $10.51 million, down a moderate 23% from a week earlier. The Robert Downey Jr. starrer has amassed an estimated $172.1 million so far.   The international gross for “Holmes 2” is around $222 million, which makes for a combined worldwide total of an estimated $394.1 million.

And Sony’s “The Girl with the Dragon Tatoo” continues to hold audience attention, taking in an estimated $8.1 million to place seventh while raising the cume to nearly $89.28 million as the film edges closer to the $100 million mark. “Girl” pulled in an estimated $16.5 million internationally this weekend, bringing the overseas total to $49.7 million and the worldwide cume to around $139 million.

Paramount’s “The Adventures of Tintin” lost traction as the film fell out of the top 10 this weekend, taking in an estimated $5.23 million from 2,073 locations and moving North American total close to $68.93 million.

Box Office Chart January 16

This article is related to: Box Office, Box Office, Box Office, Mark Wahlberg, Marketing


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