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‘Contagion’ Infects the Box Office, No ‘Help’ Needed

Movie theaters were relatively abuzz this weekend as Contagion contended with recent doldrums and weak new releases alike. Most notably, Steven Soderbergh's latest was able to dethrone the reigning box-office champ The Help with only a slight protest. Fellow newcomers didn’t rise to the occasion, as the fight movie of the year hit the mats and the porn-star spoof was left on the cutting room floor.

Contagion opened with $23 million and strong critical praise. With a large and well-known cast, the picture should do pretty well overseas. Warrior had the hype, and certainly great appeal with critics, but it got knocked down and couldn’t get back up. With $5.6 million, it made about half of The Fighter’s December 2010 wide release. If a similar Oscar buzz continues for this one, however, Warrior could mount a slow but sure assault of the box office when early award shows come around.

Bucky Larson: Born to Be a Star went the way of other pornography related mainstream films — limp. Zack and Miri Make a Porno opened with $10 million over Halloween Weekend 2008. It went on to make $31 million domestic and $42 million worldwide. The Adam Sandler creation staring Nick Swardson resonated with a fraction of the market. It earned a measly $2 million and 15th place on the charts. Pardon my saying, but look for this feature to be prematurely ejected from theaters.


The Top Ten

1. Contagion - $23.1M (weekend)…$23.1M (gross)
2. The Help - $8.6M…$137.0M
3. Warrior - $5.6M…$5.6M
4. The Debt - $4.9M…$21.9M
5. Colombiana - $4.0M…$29.7M
6. Rise of the Planet of the Apes - $3.8M…$167.8M
7. Shark Night 3D - $3.5M …$14.7M
8. Apollo 18 - $2.9M…$15.0M
9. Our Idiot Brother - $2.7M…$21.4M
10. Spy Kids: All the Time in the World - $2.5M …$34.2M 

15. Bucky Larson: Born to Be a Star - $2.0M…$2.0M


Drive is one of the most anticipated movies of September, but that does not guarantee a top spot. It is a heist caper movie which appeals to guys and action fans, but it has festival buzz which brings out the indie crowd. But just as with Warrior, people tend to drift into theaters at slow paces during fall season, so a grand start is not likely in the flick’s future. Like three of the fellow new releases Ryan Gosling's latest will open at 2,400 locations.


The Lion King (in 3D)
returns to theaters for no apparent reason this weekend. The classically animated Disney feature will rerelease in 3D at 2,400 theaters. Rereleases are inconsistent. Star Wars makes millions given its rabid fan base, while Avatar pulled in a measly $4 million. There is no telling what results will be given the little kids are back in school and families proved fickle all summer.

In the opposite corner is Straw Dogs, a decidedly R-rated revenge thriller. Its placement in this weekend is odd given Drive is also offering adult action but the marketing has been more prevalent than the former. Revenge films like Taken make tons of cash but remakes like The Last House on the Left fizzle out rather quickly.

I Don’t Know How She Does It is the widest release of the week with 2,800 cinemas signed on. The female-led comedy stars Sarah Jessica Parker as a multitasking woman narrating her life. Parker has limited success at the box office and the subject matter skews the audience to women. Thus far marketing has focused on the mundane of parenting and career including catching lice and business meetings. I predict this will be the bottom of the box-office heap. Place your bet in the comment section of the Box Office Wizard article this Friday right here on Player Affinity.

Your Player Affinity hosts of The Plot Hole movie podcast discuss their opinions of new releases every Tuesday night. Listen to Episode 22 to hear the latest reviews (see www.playeraffinity.com/podcast this Wednesday night).


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