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Mark Wahlberg and the beast (Hot movie pics for 2012)

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Contraband, Mark Wahlberg Patti Perret/Universal Studios

Last fall, The Lion King 3-D rerelease ate up the newbie box-office competition.

This weekend, the Beauty and the Beast 3-D rerelease was expected to do the same.

But Mark Wahlberg‘s Contraband wasn’t taking second to no old cartoon. 

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The R-rated heist flick was the surprise No. 1 with an estimated $24.1 million Friday-Sunday gross.

By tomorrow’s Martin Luther King Jr. Day holiday, the $25 million movie, Wahlberg’s biggest action opener since Four Brothers, is projected to have more than $28 million in the domestic bank.

Beauty and the Beast. meanwhile, settled for second place. On the upside, Disney picked up a cool $18.5 million for a 21-year-old catalog title.

Beast only suffered in comparison to The Lion King, which scored a blockbuster $30 million-plus when its 3-D version opened last September.

Queen Latifah and Dolly Parton‘s Joyful Noise performed like Cher and Christina Aguilera‘s Burlesque with critics, drawing mostly bad reviews, and with audiences, coming away with a respectable $11.3 million.

Elsewhere, The Devil Inside, last weekend’s box-office champ, didn’t just take the usual horror-movie plunge, it took a dive for the ages, with ticket sales down 77 percent—Hollywood’s worst hold, per Box Office Mojo stats, since the floor fell out from under the Jonas Brothers‘ concert movie.

Meryl Streep‘s The Iron Lady went wide, and broke into the Top 10.

Matt Damon‘s We Bought a Zoo dropped out of the Top 10 after three weekends. Its domestic total is at an OK $63.7 million.

Steven Spielberg‘s The Adventures of Tintin likewise exited the Top 10 after three weekends. Its domestic total, however, isn’t OK.

Considering Tintin‘s nearly $200 million budget and Spielberg’s name, the movie’s $67.7 million take so far is a disappointment. The film, based on a classic Belgian comic strip, just never took hold here. And while it’s done better overseas, it hasn’t ended up doing eye-popping business there, either. The movie’s worldwide take stands at about $330 million. By comparison, Tom Cruise‘s Mission: Impossible—Ghost Protocol, which has been playing in some countries for months less than Tintin, is at nearly $500 million.

In limited release, the Tilda Swinton Oscar vehicle We Need to Talk About Kevin returned to two theaters to post a weekend-best $22,000 per-screen average.

Here’s a complete look at the weekend’s top movies, as compiled from the studios’ Friday-Sunday domestic estimates and Exhibitor Relations stats:

  1. Contraband, $24.1 million
  2. Beauty and the Beast 3D, $18.5 million
  3. Mission: Impossible—Ghost Protocol, $11.5 million
  4. Joyful Noise, $11.3 million
  5. Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows, $8.4 million
  6. The Devil Inside, $7.9 million
  7. The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, $6.8 million
  8. Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked, $5.8 million
  9. War Horse, $5.6 million
  10. The Iron Lady, $5.4 million

(Originally published Jan. 15, 2012, at 9:47 a.m. PT)

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