'Contraband' swipes No. 1 spot at box office

Updated: 2012-01-16 09:42


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LOS ANGELES - "Contraband" managed to steal the top slot away from competitors at the weekend box office.

The Universal action drama film starring Mark Wahlbergas a reformed smuggler debuted above expectations at No. 1 with $24 million, while Disney's 3-D rerelease of "Beauty and the Beast" waltzed into the No. 2 position with $18.5 million, according to studio estimates Sunday. Both films helped boost Hollywood's business after a sluggish holiday season.

"It's great to have an uptick in the total box office, and Universal is thrilled that 'Contraband' was the driving force behind that," said Nikki Rocco, head of distribution for the studio. "I think it's combination of a great marketing campaign, audiences love Mark Wahlberg and (producer) Working Title made a terrific movie, particularly for the cost."

"Joyful Noise," the Warner Bros.' musical comedy starring Queen Latifah and Dolly Parton, opened below expectations with $11.3 million in the No. 4 spot behind Paramount's "Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol," which earned $11.5 million in its fifth week, bringing the total haul of the fourth installment of the Tom Cruise action franchise to $186.7 million.

"The Devil Inside," Paramount's horror film that scared up a massive $33.7 million debut last weekend, experienced a steep 77 percent drop in its second weekend, coming in at No. 6 with $7.9 million. Hollywood.com analyst Paul Dergarabedian said the film's terrifying plunge didn't matter because the independently produced movie has already made a huge profit.

"Horror movies typically drop big, but that is a huge drop," said Dergarabedian. "It doesn't matter because 'Devil Inside' is a profit-making machine. If your budget is low enough, who cares if it drops big and you're making money? It's already one of the most profitable films of the past year, so there's nothing really to complain about there."

"The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo," "War Horse" and "The Iron Lady" were the only Golden Globes contenders that managed to crack the top ten ahead of Sunday's ceremony. "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo" fell to the No. 7 spot in its fourth week of release, while "War Horse" galloped into the No. 9 position. "Iron Lady" rounded out the list at No. 10.

"The Artist," which leads this year's Globes race with six nominations, earned $1.1 million at No. 14, and the George Clooney family drama "The Descendants," which is tied for second place with "The Help" with five nominations, surfed away with $2 million at No. 13. Other contenders, such as "The Help" and "Midnight in Paris," left theaters last year.

Overall domestic revenues totaled $130 million, on par with the same weekend last year, when "The Green Hornet" led with $33.5 million and the box office totaled $130.1 million, according to box-office tracker Hollywood.com.

Estimated ticket sales for Friday through Sunday at U.S. and Canadian theaters, according to Hollywood.com. Where available, latest international numbers are also included. Final domestic figures will be released Monday.

1. "Contraband," $24 million ($1.5 million international).

2. "Beauty and the Beast," $18.5 million.

3. "Mission: Impossible — Ghost Protocol," $11.5 million ($16.8 million international).

4. "Joyful Noise," $11.3 million.

5. "Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows," $8.4 million ($27.4 million international).

6. "The Devil Inside," $7.9 million.

7. "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo," $6.8 million ($16.5 million international).

8. "Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked," $5.8 million ($14.4 million international).

9. "War Horse," $5.6 million ($8.5 million international).

10. "The Iron Lady," $5.3 million ($3.4 million international).