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Hungry action fans chowed down on Mark Wahlberg’s latest action flick Contraband, which more than exceeded predictions opening to $28.5 million over the four-day Martin Luther King, Jr. weekend. Aside from 2008’s The Happening, this is Wahlberg’s best solo opening (bigger hits The Departed and The Perfect Storm weren’t sold on his name) and best for his action resume. Despite what people would have thought a few weeks ago, Contraband could be one of January’s biggest hits.
The case for re-releasing classic films in 3D got a little bit stronger as Beauty and the Beast took second place with $22.2 million. This may be down from the $30-million debut of The Lion King but considering it is a less popular film, is already available on Blu-ray and cost under $10 million to convert, this is a success all round for Disney.
In its fifth week, Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol held on strong with $14.2 million and upped its domestic total to $189.5 million. It has now eclipsed the gross of the original and is outpacing “M:I 2” to become the top-grossing of the franchise. Worldwide, “Ghost Protocol” is how the tenth biggest hit of 2011 crossing $500 million. It is now well on track to become Tom Cruise’s second biggest global smash behind only War of the Worlds.
The Top 10 (4-Day)
1. Contraband - $28.5M (weekend)…$28.5M (gross)
2. The Beauty and the Beast 3-D - $22.2M…$22.2M
3. Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol - 14.2M…$189.5M
4. Joyful Noise - $13.8M…$13.8M
5. Sherlock Holmes : A Game of Shadows - $10.4M…$172.0M
6. The Devil Inside - $9.0M…$47.4M
7. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo - $8.0M…$89.2M
9. We Bought a Zoo - $7.4M…$65.9M
10. War Horse - $7.4M…$67.5M
Coming in right on par with expectations in fourth was faith-based comedy Joyful Noise, which sang its way to $13.8 million over the four-day. This is pretty much even for films anchored by former singer Queen Latifah.
After shocking with its $33.7 million number one start last week, bad word of mouth for The Devil Inside caught up in a big way as it plummeted 73 percent to $9.0 million and a $47.4-million total. For a $1-million flick, however, it hardly matters.
Expanding into 800 theaters, Meryl Streep’s Golden Globe-winning biopic The Iron Lady climbed just short of the top ten with $6.6 million. This is nearly identical to the expansion of Tinker, Tailor, Solider, Spy. With more award nominations to come, The Iron Lady should continue to hover around that point as it plays to older audiences.
Four more films come to theaters next week lead by Underworld: Awakening in 2,900 showings which will test Kate Beckinsale’s remaining bankability as an action heroine. In 2,500 theaters a piece is WWII epic Red Tails and the wide expansion of former Oscar-hopeful, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close. Finally, after finding success in the horror genre with Contagion, director Steven Soderbergh will test his action chops with Haywire, which blasts its way onto 2,000 screens.