Box Office Update: 'Contagion' Sweeping Into the Top Spot for the Weekend

Claudette Barius/Warner Bros. Pictures

"The Help" settles into second place as "Warrior" battles its way into the pack.

As the weekend gets underway, moviegoers appear to be coming down with a case of Contagion. The early returns suggest that the Warner Bros. release -- in which director Steven Soderbergh orchestrates an all-star cast battling a worldwide viral epidemic -- is on track to claim the top spot for the weekend.

The movie, which stars Matt Damon, Gwyneth Paltrow, Marion Cottilard, Jude Law, Laurence Fisburne and Kate Winslet, appears headed to an opening day of about $8 million, which should put it on a trajectory for a debut weekend north of $20 million.

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After three weekends as the number one movie in North America, The Help, from Disney and Dreamworks, is settling into a solid, second-place ranking. This weekend, it is expected to add about $10 million to its domestic tally, which currently stands at $128 million.

Warrior, the mixed martial arts drama pitting two brothers, played by Joel Edgerton and Tom Hardy, against each other, isn’t showing quite as much punch as some had predicted. Depending on how it catches on the Southwest and West on Friday evening, the Lionsgate release is looking to take in about $2 million for the day, which would add up to a $6-7 million opening weekend. However, Warrior can boast a positive score of 84% on -- two points higher than that of Contagion as of Friday evening – and so Lionsgate is betting that word of mouth will ultimately carry the day for the movie.

The weekend’s other new wide openers, which will have to compete with a number of holdovers before their box office rankings can be determined, are Sony’s comedy Bucky Larson: Born to Be a Star and the Bubble Factory’s self-distributed horror movie Creature.