Weekend Box Office – CONTRABAND Scores $24.1 Million; THE DEVIL INSIDE Gets Exorcised

     January 15, 2012


Even with Saturday’s family trade and higher ticket prices, Disney’s 3D re-issue of Beauty and the Beast could not catch Contraband this weekend. From its 2,863 locations Universal’s R-rated drama took in an estimated $24.1 million – a figure well above early expectations for the Mark Wahlberg vehicle.  The other BIG news is the changing fortunes of last weekend’s number one film, The Devil Inside.  Estimates have taken the film from number six – down to number eleven – and back up to number seven all within an hour.  We’re hoping to get it right this with this one but, keep in mind, it’s all estimates until Monday morning…

Title Weekend Total
1 Contraband $24,100,000 $24.1
2 Beauty and the Beast 3D $18,490,000 $18.4
3 Mission: Impossible 4 $11,500,000 $186.7
4 Joyful Noise $11,345,000 $11.3
5 Sherlock Holmes 2 $8,410,000 $170
6 The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo $6,800,000 $87.9
7 The Devil Inside $7,900,000 $46.2
8 Alvin and the Chipmunks 3 $5,800,000 $118.7
9 War Horse $5,600,000 $65.7
10 The Iron Lady $5,386,000 $5.9

devil-inside-movie-image-01To start, you may have noticed that the first draft of our top ten featured a spectacular drop for The Devil Inside – right out of the top ten.  Turns out, not so much!  At 77%, the descent of The Devil Inside was dramatic –  although nowhere near as dramatic as it first appeared.  In fact, 2009’s Friday the 13th can still be proud of showing the biggest fall from first place at 80%.  My sincerest apologies to Paramount for going with what was obviously bad intell.  Now that we have that settled, on to brighter fortunes…

giovanni-ribisi-mark-wahlberg-contraband-imageRecent box office history is littered with R-rated dramas that failed to open strongly (January’s a particularly bleak month, what with 2010’s Edge of Darkness and last year’s Legion and The Mechanic all disappointing in their own unique ways) which is why Contraband’s number one victory is a bit unexpected.  Taking comparable titles from Wahlberg’s career, like Max Payne and Four Brothers, and factoring in the huge windfall Disney saw last September by re-releasing The Lion King in 3D, I was not alone in believing that Beauty and the Beast would be the film grabbing the headlines this morning.

But instead of second place with just under $20 million, Contraband was the clear winner and is now expected to earn just under $30 million by the end of the for-day Martin Luther King Jr. holiday.  To be sure, Contraband’s $24.1 million weekend estimate falls fall short of the $33.5 million The Green Hornet commanded on the MLK frame one year ago; but considering that the reported budget for the former is nearly $100 million under that of the latter (not to mention the fact that Contraband had no 3D price uptick to boost its grosses), I’m thinking that Universal is feeling pretty pleased with how things played out.

beauty-and-the-beast-movie-image-03Which is not to say that the folks over at Disney do not have reason to be pleased as well.  Sure, Beauty and the Beast 3D did not end up as the number one film this weekend and its three-day estimate was well below the $30.1 million that The Lion King 3D drummed up last September; but the truth is that no one expected that bar to be matched.  Compared to The Lion King, the number one traditionally-animated feature of all time (and the second highest-grossing animated film period, after Shrek 2), 1991’s Beauty and the Beast is not nearly as beloved.  Current projections through Monday put Beauty 3D in the $25 million range – more than enough to justify Disney’s 3D conversion.

Warner Brothers’ Joyful Noise rounds out this weekend’s three new releases (The Iron Lady also expanded this week but is not, strictly speaking, ‘new’). The PG-13 musical dramedy debuted in-line with expectations and is expected to take in just under $14 million through Monday. The film that was in a statistical tie with Joyful Noise on Friday’s chart, Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol, passed a milestone this weekend.  Its current domestic total of $186.7 million made it the second-highest grossing M:I film in the franchise, ahead of the 1996 original, and helped push its worldwide grosses to over $500 million.

Overall, this MLK weekend is estimated to gross 10% higher than 2011, a good omen for the New Year’s box office prospects.  Things look good for next weekend as well, as several high-profile films open or expand, including Underworld Awakening, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close and George Lucas’ long, long, awaited WWII drama Red Tails.

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