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Box office update: 'Contagion' consumes weak competition with $8 mil on Friday

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Contagion 03
Claudette Barius

In what’s shaping up to be possibly the slowest weekend of the year at the box office, the only bright spot was the new viral thriller Contagion, which topped the charts with an estimated $8 million on Friday. Warner Bros.’ PG-13 film, which was directed by Steven Soderbergh and stars a who’s who of Oscar winners and nominees, received mostly positive reviews and is on pace for a solid $22 million opening. But its success cannot distract from the box office’s overall dismal performance. The top 10 movies grossed an estimated $19.6 million on Friday — the lowest Friday figure so far this year.

The weekend’s three other new releases all struggled. Lionsgate’s Warrior, a PG-13 sports drama about two brothers (Tom Hardy and Joel Edgerton) who face each other in a mixed martial arts tournament, mustered only $1.8 million on Friday. The $25 million movie earned strong reviews and some Oscar buzz for Hardy and supporting actor Nick Nolte. But in order to keep its award prospects alive, the film has to hold up well these upcoming weeks.

Razzies, rather than Oscars, may be in store for the Adam Sandler-produced Bucky Larson: Born to Be a Star, which picked up some of the worst reviews of the year and opened in 12th place with $540,000 on Friday. The result puts the R-rated comedy, which stars Nick Swardson as an aspiring porn actor, on track for a weekend gross of just $1.5 million. That won’t be the lowest opening weekend for a movie playing in at least 1,500 locations — that honor goes to the infamous Delgo with its $512,000 debut. But Bucky Larson won’t be too far behind.

Estimates haven’t been reported yet for the low-budget R-rated horror film Creature, which opened yesterday in 1,507 theaters. But considering the hardly advertised picture is about a half-human, half-alligator monster in the bayous of Louisiana, we doubt its box-office numbers will display much, um, bite.

Among holdovers, The Help slipped 26 percent for $2.7 million on Friday, dropping to second place for the first time after spending 25 days at No. 1. The PG-13 drama should collect $9 million this weekend, pushing its cumulative gross to about $137 million. And the R-rated spy thriller The Debt fell 45 percent for $1.4 million, while the revenge action flick Colombiana dropped 41 percent for $1.2 million.

Check back here on Sunday for the complete box office report.

1. Contagion — $8.0 mil

2. The Help — $2.7 mil

3. Warrior — $1.8 mil

4. The Debt — $1.4 mil

5. Colombiana — $1.2 mil

Box office preview: No stopping Contagion from dominating the weekend