As expected Warner's Contagion easily led the way at the box office this weekend. The Steven Soderbergh directed film starring Matt Damon debuted with $22.40 million, which was in line with expectations. Contagion opened 6 percent stronger than the $21.16 million start of this year's The Adjustment Bureau, which also starred Damon. After starring in four consecutive lackluster performers at the box office in 2009 and 2010 Damon has bounced back nicely in the past year, starting with his supporting role in True Grit. The audience breakdown for Contagion was split evenly between male and female moviegoers, with a massive 81 percent of the audience being over the age of 25.
Internationally, Contagion added $2.1 million from just 6 foreign markets. The highlight was a $663,000 start in Italy. The majority of the film's international roll out will occur throughout the month of October.
After leading the box office each of the past three weekends, The Help finished in a distant second this weekend with $8.93 million. The Disney released surprise blockbuster film from DreamWorks fell 39 percent from last weekend's three-day frame, which represented the film's poorest weekend hold thus far. It should be noted that holdovers in general didn't hold up very well this weekend, as the anniversary of 9/11 and the start of the NFL season clearly took a toll on the marketplace. The weekend after Labor Day weekend is traditionally one of the slowest weekends of the year as well. The 33-day total for The Help stands at a terrific $137.33 million.
Lionsgate's Warrior opened with a soft $5.24 million. The mixed martial arts film starring Tom Hardy and Joel Edgerton has been the beneficiary of strong critical reviews, but those reviews ultimately didn't help at the box office this weekend. At the end of the day, mixed martial arts may have simply been too much of a niche market for mainstream audiences to care about. The audience for Warrior skewed heavily male (66 percent) and was split almost evenly between younger and older moviegoers (51 percent were over the age of 25). Warrior will hope to have a lengthy run going forward thanks to good word of mouth, but that will be easier said than done with a number of upcoming releases targeting the film's same target demo over the next couple weeks.
Like The Help, The Debt took a larger than expected fall this weekend after displaying solid holding power throughout the midweek. The Focus release starring Helen Mirren fell 52 percent to place in fourth with $4.77 million. In comparison, last year's The American fell 57 percent in its second weekend of release. Despite this weekend's fall, The Debt has still exceeded expectations with a twelve-day start of $21.87 million, placing it 22 percent behind the pace of The American and 15 percent ahead of 2005's The Constant Gardener.
CodeBlack Entertainment's Laugh at My Pain opened with a surprising $1.91 million. The big screen version of Kevin Hart's popular comedy tour played in only 98 locations, which gave the film an impressive per-location average of $19,474.
Sony's Bucky Larson: Born to Be a Star opened below its already low expectations with an opening weekend of $1.42 million. The R-rated comedy landed all the way down in 15th place and earned a per-location average of just $943.
Bubble Distribution's Creature made an even smaller impact with an opening weekend take of $ 0.33 million. Creature earned a per-location average of only $217.
Additional reporting by Phil Contrino.
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