Box Office: ‘Contraband’ takes Friday with a strong $8.7 million

Universal Pictures’ 100th anniversary year got of to a positive start as the Mark Wahlberg thriller “Contraband” grossed $8.6 million on Friday.  The thriller should make between $25-27 million for the weekend.  That would be a bit better than the $21 million Wahlberg’s R-rated thriller “Four Brothers” found in 2005 and a bit under the $35 million 2010’s “The Other Guys” grossed.

In second place, the re-release of “Beauty and the Beast” in 3D grossed $5.6 million.  That’s definitely lower than “The Lion King’s” 3D opening in September ($8.9 million), but “Beast” should easily make around $17-18 million for the three-day.  Considering the original film is 20 years old and will hit Blu-ray this month, it’s extra revenue Disney won’t mind adding to the bottom line.

Warner Bros.’ “Joyful Noise” swung into third with $3.3 million. That’s a bit under pre-release expectations and the Dolly Parton and Queen Latifah might only find $10 million for the three day and possibly $13 million for the four-day Martin Luther King Day frame.

Right behind “Noise” was “Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol” with $3.2 million. The fourth “Impossible” flick has now grossed $178.5 million and could become the first installment in the franchise to cross the $200 million mark domestic since “M:I 2” since 2000.

Last week’s surprise champ, “The Devil Inside,” had a massive drop to fifth place with another $2.7 million and $41 million in eight days.  That’s a sign of very bad word of mouth – even for a horror movie – but considering it only cost under $1 million to acquire its still a very impressive profit margin for Paramount.

The Weinstein Company expanded “The Iron Lady” to 802 screens and the Meryl Streep Oscar performance contender pulled in $1.57 million for a $1,958 per screen.  “Lady” could easily gross $4-5 million for the four-day holiday frame.

Look for updated box office results tomorrow on HitFix.