Box Office Report: Steven Soderbergh's 'Contagion' Winning Weekend Race

Contagion - Movie Still: Matt Damon - H - 2011

The all-star thriller opens at No. 1 at the domestic box office on Friday, while "The Help" holds in at No. 2; "Warrior" is off to a slow start but could have strong legs, but "Bucky Larson: Born to be a Star" bombs.

TORONTO -- Steven Soderbergh’s thriller Contagion opened to No. 1 at the domestic box office Friday with an estimated $8 million, while Disney’s The Help held in strong at No. 2.

Otherwise, the news ranged from so-so to grim. The film business is looking at the worst weekend of the year in terms of revenues, which may only hit $70 million.

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Lionsgate’s mixed martial arts drama Warrior grossed an estimated $1.8 million in its first day to come in No. 3 and is now looking at a lower-than-expected weekend debut of $5 million to $5.5 million. At the same time, the film -- starring Nick Nolte, Joel Edgerton and Tom Hardy -- is drawing strong reviews and drew an A CinemaScore, portending good word-of-mouth.

Sony’s comedy Bucky Larson: Born to be a Star, produced by Adam Sandler's production company Happy Madison, is an all-out bomb, earning a dismal $540,000 on Friday to fall outside of the top 10. Oddly, the pic received a B CinemaScore.

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Warner Bros. and Participant Media’s Contagion, starring Matt Damon, Gwyneth Paltrow, Marion Cotillard, Jude Law,Laurence Fisburne and Kate Winslet as a team of CDC doctors trying to stop a worldwide viral epidemic, should easily win the weekend race with $20 million to $22 million. The pic received a B- CinemaScore, with more than 80% of the audience over the age of 25.

DreamWorks’ The Help -- also co-financed by Participant -- should gross around $9 million, pushing its domestic total to nearly $140 million. Contagion knocks the film from the No. 1 spot at the domestic box office after a three-week rule.

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Focus Features’ The Debt is enjoying a strong hold in its second weekend, grossing an estimated $1.4 million on Friday for a cume of $18.5 million. The Helen Mirren thriller, coming in at No. 4, is expected to gross  roughly $4.5 for the weekend.

Sony’s Zoe Saldana action pic Colombiana is holding in the No. 5 position, grossing an estimated $1.2 million for a domestic cume of $26.9 million.

Shark Night 3D and Apollo 18 both saw steep drops in the their second weekends. Shark Night placed No. 7 on Friday, falling 64% to an estimated $1 million for a cume of $12.3 million.

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Apollo 18 tumbled more than 68% to an estimated $875,000 for a cume of $13 million.

Box office observers say Sunday, Sept. 9 could be a particularly slow day for male-driven films because of the start of the NFL season.