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In more good news for the film business — which is still recovering from a rocky 2011 at the domestic box office — moviegoers turned out in force on Friday as the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday weekend got underway.
Universal’s Contraband, staring Mark Wahlberg and Kate Beckinsale, and Disney’s 3D re-release of Beauty and the Beast both overperformed on their first day out, while Warner Bros. and Alcon’s muscial comedy Joyful Noise got off to a solid start.
Box office observers expect revenues for the four-day holiday weekend to be up as much as 10 percent over last year.
Contraband, an English-language remake of the 2009 Icelandic film, topped Friday’s box office chart with $8.7 million. Projections show the pic, which received an A- CinemaScore, grossing nearly $29 million over the four-day weekend. Universal and Working Title produced the film for a modest $25 million (Relativity Media is a financing partner on the film).
Disney’s 3D re-release of classic toon Beauty and the Beast took the No. 2 position on Friday, grossing $5.6 million for a projected four-day opening of $26 million. That number coud be revised upwards depending upon traffic on Saturday.
Beauty and the Beast will come much closer than anticipated to the $30 million debut of The Lion King when re-released in 3D last year. Heading into the weekend, tracking suggested that both Beauty and Contraband would only open in the mid to high teens.
Warner Bros. and Alcon Entertainment’s Joyful Noise, the third new film of the weekend, narrowly beat holdover MIssion: Impossible – Ghost Protocol on Friday to take the No. 3 spot, grossing $3.32 million. Joyful Noise, headlining Queen Latifah and Dolly Parton as two competing church choir directors, also received an A- CinemaScore.
The musical comedy, which is projected to gross $13.5 million for the four days, was fully financed and produced by Alcon Entertainment, the Warners Bros.-based company that made box office hit The Blind Side. Like many of many Alcon’s films, Joyful Noise was tailor-made for faith-based audiences in mind. It cost under $30 million to produce.
Ghost Protocol could overtake Joyful Noise for the four-day holiday weekend. On Friday, Ghost Protocol grossed $3.27 million, pushing its domestic cume to nearly $178 million.
Paramount’s micro-budgeted exorcism pic The Devil Inside fell nearly 85 percent from the previous Friday to an estimated $2.7 million. Generally speaking, horror films see steeper declines than other genres.
Devil Inside is projected to gross $9 million to $10 million for the four-day weekend, putting its cume north of $45 million. The pic, which Paramount acquired for $1 million, opened last weekend to record-breaking numbers.
At the awards box office, the Weinstein Co.’s awards contender The Iron Lady made a major push on Friday, upping its theater count from five theaters to more than 800. Iron Lady, starring Meryl Streep, came in No. 9 on Friday, grossing $1.6 million for a domestic cume of $2.2 million.
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