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‘Contraband’ Opens as Top Film for Four-Day Holiday Weekend

The Mark Wahlberg action film “Contraband” opened as the top film at U.S. and Canadian theaters, taking in $28.8 million for Comcast Corp. (CMCSA)’s Universal Pictures for the four-day holiday weekend.

The Walt Disney Co. (DIS) animated classic “Beauty and the Beast,” converted to 3-D, was second with $23.5 million, researcher Hollywood.com Box-Office said today in an e-mailed statement.

With $24.5 million in its first three days, “Contraband” exceeded the $18.5 million estimate of the movie website Box Office Mojo. The film stars Wahlberg as a former smuggler who is forced to return to the trade after his brother-in-law runs afoul of drug dealers. Kate Beckinsale co-stars. The film was made for an estimated $25 million, according Box Office Mojo.

“I think we’ve had a couple of weeks in a row now that were a little better than expected here in the first couple of January,” said Paul Sweeney, an analyst at Bloomberg Industries in Skillman, New Jersey. He called it “welcome news” for Hollywood after a disappointing 2011.

The 3-D “Beauty and the Beast” generated $17.8 million over three days, compared with the $17.5 million estimate of researcher BoxOffice.com.

The film, based on fairy tale, tells the story of Belle, a young girl who becomes a hostage in the castle of a frightening animal-like creature. The film features the voices of Angela Lansbury, Robby Benson and Paige O’Hara.

‘Mission: Impossible’

“What we’re finding is some of those Disney titles were blockbuster titles to begin with, and they lend themselves to some 3-D adaptations,” Sweeney said. “The expectation is that Hollywood’s going to bring out some of those animation films that did well in years past.”

Banks, schools and government offices are closed today for the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday in the U.S., adding a fourth day to the typical Friday-Sunday moviegoing weekend.

“Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol,” was third with $14.2 million over four days. The movie, also from Paramount, has taken in $189.5 million since it was released on Dec. 16.

Tom Cruise returns as Ethan Hunt, leader of an elite special-operations squad that takes on the government’s most difficult assignments. This time, team members go underground to clear their names after being falsely implicated in a bombing at the Kremlin. The movie also features Jeremy Renner and Simon Pegg.

The holiday weekend’s other new film, “Joyful Noise,” was fourth with $13.8 million in receipts. The movie, from Time Warner Inc. (TWX)’s Warner Bros., stars Dolly Parton and Queen Latifah as the leading ladies in a small-town gospel choir. They clash during preparations for a national competition.

Revenue, Attendance Up

Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows,” fell to fifth from third with $10.5 million over four days. The Warner Bros. film features Robert Downey Jr. as the cerebral sleuth created by novelist Arthur Conan Doyle.

Weekend revenue for the top 12 films gained 1 percent to $141.6 million from the year-earlier period, Hollywood.com said. Revenue and attendance in 2012 have each risen 15 percent. The amounts below are based on actual ticket sales for Jan. 13-15 and estimates for today.

                       Rev.            Avg./   Pct.   Total
Movie                 (mln)  Theaters  Theater Chg.   (mln)  Wks
================================================================
1 CONTRABAND           $28.5   2,863  $10,065   --    $28.8   1
2 BEAUTY AND THE BEAST  23.5   2,625    8,955   --     23.5   1
3 MISSION IMPOSSIBLE    14.2   3,346    4,244   -41   189.5   5
4 JOYFUL NOISE          13.8   2,735    5,040   --     13.8   1
5 SHERLOCK HOLMES       10.5   3,155    3,330   -37   172.1   5
6 THE DEVIL INSIDE       9.2   2,551    3,597   -76    47.5   2
7 GIRL DRAGON TATTOO     8.1   2,674    3,029   -41    89.3   4
8 ALVIN AND CHIPMUNKS    7.8   2,849    2,747   -38   120.8   5
9 WAR HORSE              7.2   2,856    2,509   -32    67.3   4
10 WE BOUGHT A ZOO       6.8   2,909    2,338   -33    65.3   4
11 THE IRON LADY         6.5     802    8,072  2972     7.1   3
12 ADVENTURES OF TINTIN  5.2   2,073    2,521   -40    68.9   4


Top 12 Film Grosses:
    This Week     Year Ago     Pct.
     (mln)         (mln)       Chg.
===================================
     $141.6       $140.1        +1%


Year-to-date Revenue:

     2012          2011
      YTD           YTD        Pct.
     (mln)         (mln)       Chg.
===================================
    $484.9        $422.9       +15%

Year-to-date Attendance:       +15%

To contact the reporters on this story: Michael White in Los Angeles at mwhite8@bloomberg.net; Laura Marcinek in New York at lmarcinek3@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Anthony Palazzo at apalazzo@bloomberg.net

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