Universal's Contraband led the box office over the Martin Luther King holiday weekend with an estimated four-day take of $28.82 million. The modestly budgeted Mark Wahlberg vehicle significantly exceeded its growing pre-release expectations and represents another solid performance for Wahlberg, who has been consistently able to open films for over a decade. Without taking into account ticket price inflation, Contraband is running an impressive 20 percent stronger than the $23.96 million four-day start of 2005's Four Brothers. The audience breakdown for Contraband was nearly evenly split by gender (51 percent male) and skewed older (55 percent 30 and older).
Internationally, Contraband grossed $1.5 million from just seven markets this weekend. Russia was responsible for $1.0 million of that sum.
Also getting off to a strong start was Disney's Beauty and the Beast 3D. The 3D re-issue of the 1991 traditionally animated classic placed in second with an estimated four-day take of $23.51 million. That was on the higher end of the film's pre-release expectations. Beauty and the Beast 3D opened 28 percent below the $32.47 million four-day start of last year's The Lion King 3D. While Beauty and the Beast 3D was relatively front-loaded towards Friday this weekend for a family film over Martin Luther King weekend, the film will still have a great chance of holding up well going forward thanks in part to the lack of new family options over the next few weeks. The unadjusted domestic lifetime gross for Beauty and the Beast now stands at $194.86 million.
The weekend's other new wide release, Warner's Joyful Noise opened in fourth place with an estimated four-day start of $13.79 million. The modestly budgeted film starring Queen Latifah and Dolly Parton opened slightly below expectations. Joyful Noise opened 11 percent below the $15.51 million four-day start of 2006's Last Holiday, which also starred Queen Latifah and opened over Martin Luther King weekend. However, the film did open 49 percent ahead of the $9.27 million start of 2008's Mad Money (another film starring Latifah that opened over Martin Luther King weekend).
The Weinstein Company's The Iron Lady had a strong expansion into limited release with an estimated four-day take of $6.47 million. That was good enough for eleventh place over the frame and gave the awards season hopeful starring Meryl Streep a healthy per-location average of $8,072 from 802 locations. In the coming days The Iron Lady will hope to see an added boost from Streep's Golden Globe win for Best Actress in a Drama on Sunday night. After an additional two weeks of platform release, The Iron Lady has grossed $7.06 million to date.
With so much new product entering the marketplace this weekend, holiday season holdovers experienced relatively modest holds. Paramount's Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol fell 29 percent from last weekend's three-day frame to take third with an estimated $14.20 million. Meanwhile, Warner's Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows was down 23 percent to place in fifth with $10.51 million, Sony's The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo was down 29 percent to finish in seventh with $8.10 million and Fox's Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked was down 18 percent to take eighth with $7.83 million. Respective current total domestic grosses stand at $189.45 million for Ghost Protocol, $172.10 million for A Game of Shadows, $120.81 million for Chipwrecked and at $89.28 million for Dragon Tattoo.
Holding up exponentially worse was Paramount's The Devil Inside. After a shockingly strong first place debut last weekend, the R-rated horror film was down five spots and a massive 73 percent to place in sixth with a four-day take of $9.18 million. Very poor word of mouth is clearly having a very negative effect on the film, but at the same time the ultra-low budget release has already grossed $47.52 million in just eleven days of release.