Weekend Receipts: Contagion Fever -- Catch It!
Hark, a new film hath unseated The Help for the #1 crown! All it took was Steven Soderbergh's hypochondria-inducing Contagion, a picture that will surely also boost worldwide sales of Purell during flu season. And while there's no love lost in seeing last week's Shark Night 3D and Apollo 18 drop precipitously down in the ranks, the heartstrings pull for Warrior, a finely acted MMA film that only got a fraction of the theater count of its competitors, and performed accordingly. But! At least it fared better than Bucky Larson...
Gross: $23,135,000 ($23,135,000)
Screens: 3,222 (PSA: $7,180)
Steven Soderbergh's Contagion tapped into an elemental fascination among the American public: Paranoia. (And on the ten-year anniversary of 9/11, no less.) What it offered audiences, as with The Help, seems to signify a key shift in the movie schedule -- summer is over, and it's time for more serious, grown-up fare at the box office. It remains to be seen if the pandemic thriller's reign will keep spreading in the coming weeks, but given the competition it's got a good chance of holding #1 until Moneyball and Abduction enter the charts.
2. The Help
Gross: $ 8,691,000 ($137,093,000)
Screens: 2,935 (PSA: $ 2,961)
Weeks: 5 (change: - 40.5 %)
It took a cast of A-listers and a global pandemic to unseat Tate Taylor's The Help after its unexpected reign at #1, but still: at $137M and counting, it's the sleeper hit of the year. Expect the domestic drama to keep hanging around the top 10 for a while.
Gross: $ 5,607,000 (new)
Screens: 1,869 (PSA: $ 3,000)
It's a shame Lionsgate didn't open their Tom Hardy-Joel Edgerton MMA drama in more than just 1,869 theaters, because this is a film far more potent than its logline suggests. Though their stars are on the rise, leads Hardy and Edgerton are still unknown to many and at $5.6M, the Gavin O'Connor-directed sports drama fell shorter than expected at the box office. That may make Warrior's long-shot awards season hopes even longer, but doesn't everyone like to root for the underdog?
4. The Debt
Gross: $ 4,905,000 ($21,993,000)
Screens: 1,874 (PSA: $ 2,617)
Weeks: 2 (change: - 50.5 %)
Even with star Helen Mirren and up-and-comers Sam Worthington and Jessica Chastain on the marquee, John Madden's Mossad action-thriller suffered from middling reviews and even less enthusiastic word of mouth, despite having its moments. This doesn't bode well for Texas Killing Fields, the October pic that reunites Worthington and Chastain...
Gross: $4,000,000 ($29,779,000)
Screens: 2,354 (PSA: $1,699)
Weeks: 3 (change: -46.4%)
Zoe Saldana's action heroine turn is holding on relatively well, having survived better than, say, Shark Night 3D or Apollo 18. Credit producer/co-writer Luc Besson for consistently delivering the kind of muscular, sexy action that audiences love -- and for giving Avatar star Saldana an appropriately slinky, tough leading role. May she hold on in the top 10, guns blazing, as Straw Dogs, Drive, Abduction, and Killer Elite blast their way into the genre pool in the coming weeks.
13. Laugh at My Pain
Gross: $2,000,000 (new)
Screens: 97 (PSA: $20,619)
The real success story of the weekend? Comedian Kevin Hart's stand-up comedy
special Laugh at My Pain, which earned an incredible $20K per-screen average on just 97 screens in an exclusive run via AMC Theaters and built word of mouth largely through social media. Meanwhile...
15. Bucky Larson: Born to Be a Star
Gross: $1,450,000 (new)
Screens: 1,500 (PSA: $967)
Nick Swardson's star turn as a buck-toothed wannabe porn ingénue, shockingly, did not even crack the top 10. Maybe everyone took Movieline guest reviewer Joanna Angel's advice and decided to wait for Netflix.
[Numbers via Box Office Guru]