Mark Wahlberg flexed his box office muscles on Friday with his latest thriller Contraband, which easily claimed first place with an estimated $8.7 million. Disney's 3D re-release of Beauty and the Beast was far behind in second, though it should close the gap substantially by the end of the four-day weekend. The final newcomer, Joyful Noise, edged out Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol for third, though positions could reverse over the next few days. Overall, the Top 10 made an estimated $32.6 million yesterday, which is identical to the same Friday last year.
Contraband's $8.7 million start was higher than other Wahlberg thrillers like Max Payne ($7.04 million), Four Brothers ($6.98 million) and Shooter ($4.8 million). It was also an improvement on January 2010's Edge of Darkness ($5.6 million), and was even a bit up from similar movie The Town ($8.3 million). For the four-day weekend, Universal is predicting around $29 million.
Beauty and the Beast 3D debuted to an estimated $5.6 million, which is notably off from The Lion King 3D's $8.9 million last September. A decline was to be expected, though, considering how popular The Lion King is in comparison. Beauty should finish the four-day weekend with over $25 million, which will make it the latest confirmation that 3D re-releases can be a very profitable endeavor.
Joyful Noise earned an estimated $3.3 million yesterday. That's a bit down from Queen Latifah's Last Holiday, which opened to $3.7 million on the same day in 2006. By the end of the holiday weekend, Joyful Noise will likely have made close to $13 million.
Facing its first real competition in Contraband, Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol slid 47 percent to $3.3 million. Still, the movie has now grossed $178.3 million, and it should pass the first Mission: Impossible's $181 million total sometime today.
After it opened huge but drew a near-unprecedented level of hatred from its audience, The Devil Inside plummeted 84 percent to $2.7 million on Friday. For comparison, Paranormal Activity 3 and The Last Exorcism both only fell 76 percent, which is still pretty atrocious. One recent movie with a worse drop is the 2009 Friday the 13th remake, which yielded 86 percent on its second Friday ahead of a weekend that was down over 80 percent. The Devil Inside is probably in for a similar fall, though at this point it doesn't really matter—the movie has already scared up $41.1 million, which is more than The Last Exorcism made in its entire run.
Following two successful weeks in limited release, The Iron Lady expanded to 802 locations on Friday and earned $1.57 million. Its $1,958 per-theater average is a tad lower than Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy's from its expansion last Friday. Still, it puts the movie in line for over $5 million for the holiday weekend, which is a very solid start for the Margaret Thatcher biopic.