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Weekend Box Office: Contraband Smuggles Its Way to the Top of the Box Office

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By Chris Kavan - 01/16/12 at 10:49 AM CT

In a battle between new and old, new won the day, but it was smiles all around as once again the total box office was on an upward tick compared to last year.

Contraband, the action/crime drama with Mark Wahlberg heading the cast, took in $24.1 million over the weekend. It represented was Wahlberg's sixth-best opening of his career, besting the likes of Four Brothers ($21.2 million) and The Italian Job ($19.4 million). In terms of January films, it was close to matching Taken's $24.7 million and the A- score given by audiences means this film has a good chance at sticking around at least a few more weeks.

Disney's re-release strategy continues to pay off as Beauty and the Beast came in second with $18.5 million. While it wasn't as much as The Lion King's $30.2 million, it is still a high enough number that I'm guessing we're going to see more in the future. Fully 97% of the grosses came from 3D screenings and it earned (unsurprisingly) an A+ from audiences.

The week's other new opening, Joyful Noise, opened in 4th with $11.3 million. The largely older, female audience gave the movie a A-. Considering the theme of the film, the end result can be considered a decent opening and improves upon the openings of Queen Latifah's Just Wright ($8.3 million) and the music-related Country Strong ($7.3 million).

Last week's champion The Devil Inside nose-dived to sixth place and had a whopping 76.6% audience drop. Horror movies are usually front-loaded, but I'm guessing the extra $7.9 million (and $46.2 million total) is just fine for a movie that only cost $1 million.

Dropping to third place, Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol dropped 42% to wind up in third place with $11.5 million. It surpassed the original film's $181 million by winding up at $186.7 million and now looks to beat the $215.4 million total of the second film to come out as the top M:I film in the series.

Rounding out the top five, Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows dropped 38.6% and took in $8.4 million on its way to a $170 million total. It should easily be able to pass the $175 million mark this week, and could still have an outside chance to break the $200 million mark.

Breaking into the top 10 this week was Meryl Steep in The Iron Lady. After expanding to just over 800 theaters, it came in 10th with nearly $5.4 million. Steep's Golden Globe win may bolster its numbers. We'll see if any of the other awards show winners get a bit of a boost as well - though Oscar's tend to be a bigger boost.

Next week Red Tails brings the story of the Tuskegee Airmen to the big screen, Haywire amps the action up to 11 and Underworld Awakening hopes you make you forget all about shiny vampire with stylistic fight scenes. A lot of action to choose from, we'll see just what kind of action audiences are in the mood for this week.

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