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Mark Wahlberg stared the Beast, the whole IMF team, and Dolly Parton down, and he told them to all say hi to their mothers for him. Contraband surprised everyone who thought Disney was just cashing in on easy blockbuster numbers with their 3D re-releases, and the action drama ended up taking the top spot by a nice sized margin. It’s not Wahlberg’s biggest opening to day. Far from it. But Contraband was able to serve up a number that is considered sizable especially considering its mid-January release. It also is a reasonable opening as a vehicle for Wahlberg, who has only had four films in his career open higher than $30m, The Happening ($30.5m opening), The Other Guys ($35.5m opening), The Perfect Storm ($41.3m opening), and Planet of the Apes ($68.5m opening). Needless to say, all four of those films were summer releases.

While Disney didn’t match the success they had with The Lion King‘s re-release in 3-D, they did pull in some expected and flattering numbers this weekend with Beauty and the Beast. At this point, they’re just covering the conversion and re-release cost, so most of the $18.4m it made this weekend is icing on top of an already well-made cake. Disney has many more well-made cakes lined up to get their own layers of sweet stuff with Finding Nemo next up in September this year. Also, in the long run of things, Beauty and the Beast is sure to continue pulling in remarkable numbers all throughout its release here. It’s already made an estimated $5.7m the Monday after its opening weekend, putting it up in the #1 spot for the day above Contraband. Schools being out for Martin Luther King Jr. Day is also a big factor in that, but look for Beauty and the Beast‘s longevity to continue cycling moviegoers dollars into the Disney machine.

Speaking of machines, Queen Latifah is back on the charts helping Joyful Noise bring in $11.3m for the #4 spot. It’s not a wow number, but that’s about what was expected given the cast and subject matter here. Joyful Noise didn’t surprise anyone by taking off. We can all thank the people who didn’t see it for sparing us an obvious sequel had it made tons of dough. However, that’s not a bad number for Joyful Noise. It’s just an expected one.

Also expected was Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol breaking past $500m worldwide and getting itself into the top 10 domestic releases of 2011. It now sits at #8 ahead of Thor‘s $181m and behind Cars 2‘s $191.4m. It’s a given that it’ll be surpassing Cars 2 by the end of next weekend at the latest, and it has a chance of topping Fast Five‘s $209.8m. Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides‘ $241m is a bit out of reach, though. However, the film currently sits as the second biggest Mission: Impossible film to date, behind Mission: Impossible II‘s $215.4m domestic/$546.3m worldwide, both numbers it has the ability to overcome.

The Devil Inside dropped a whopping 76.6%, even higher than expected. I’m sure Paramount was anticipating this, as well, but what do they care? Really? They’ve already pulled $47.5m against the $1m they paid for it. Remember that earlier analogy about the cake and the icing? Yeah, it’s all just icing for Paramount now when it comes to The Devil Inside. Unless the website, www.therossifiles.com, just cost them a fortune.

Here’s how the weekend broke down:

  1. Contraband – $24.1m NEW
  2. Beauty and the Beast in 3-D – $18.4m in addition to $189.8m the film made domestically in 1991
  3. Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol – $11.5m (-42.1%) $186.7m total
  4. Joyful Noise – $11.3m NEW
  5. Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows – $8.4m (-38.6%) $170m total
  6. The Devil Inside – $7.9m (-76.6%) $46.2m total
  7. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo – $6.8m (-40.2%) $87.9m total
  8. Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked – $5.8m (-38.9%) $118.7m total
  9. War Horse – $5.6m (-35.4%) $65.7m total
  10. The Iron Lady – $5.3m (+2953.7%) $5.9m total

$105.1m is not a weekend number to sneeze at, particularly here in the doldrums of the January graveyard. That’s about right on par with the same weekend last year when The Green Hornet debuted to $33.5m, and The Dilemma seconded it with $17.5m. Granted, the #1s between last year and this year had a somewhat large gap between them. The rest of the top 10 were able to hold on to some pretty hefty figures, though. Yes, even The Devil Inside and it’s 76% drop. That $8m made all the difference in the world, Paramount. Go ahead and pat yourselves on the back.

Three new films looking to pat themselves on the back next weekend are Red Tails, Haywire, and Underworld Awakening. So, you know, if you’re looking for girls kicking some major butt, two of these films have you covered. If you’re in the mood for some World War II dogfighting, Red Tails has got you covered. The weekend could be all Underworld‘s for the taking, but there will certainly be some newbies as well as a few of these oldies who will be doing everything in their power to keep that from happening. It really doesn’t matter who wins as long as Kate Beckinsale shows up in leather.

We’ll be back later in the week to see how the weekend is shaping up.


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