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"Contagion" tops North America box office

(Xinhua)

09:04, September 13, 2011

LOS ANGELES, Sept. 11 (Xinhua) -- "Contagion," a bio-thriller distributed by Warner Bros., has opened as the top box office earner in North America, grossing 23.1 million U.S. dollars in movie ticket receipts over the weekend, the studio announced on Sunday.

The thriller has effectively ended the three-week winning streak achieved by "The Help," a DreamWorks Pictures drama distributed by Disney.

"Contagion" was directed by Academy Award winner Steven Soderbergh and owns a star-studded cast which includes six Oscar winners or nominees such as Matt Damon, Marion Cotillard, Gwyneth Paltrow, Kate Winslet, Jude Law and Laurence Fishburne. It debuted at 3,222 locations including 257 IMAX screenings in the United Stated and Canada.

It tells how an international team of doctors from the CDC in the United States and the World Health Organization deal with the threat posed by an outbreak of a deadly disease. It was produced by Warner Bros. and Participant Media at a 60-million-dollar budget.

The film has reaped good word-of-mouth buzz from audience after Warner Bros. brought the movie to Venice Film Festival last week to largely positive reviews and conducted an aggressive consumer campaign. CinemaScore reported that moviegoers gave the film a "B- " grade. More than 80 percent of audience were over 25 years old.

"The Help," now five weeks in showing, is projected to garner 8. 7 million dollars during the Friday-Sunday period, ending in second spot. It is on track to gross 137 million dollars for Disney.

"Warrior," a Lionsgate martial art drama, opened in third place, making 5.6 million dollars in ticket sales. Made at a 25 million- dollar budget, the film stars relative newcomers Tom Hardy, whom Hollywood executives consider a hot soon-to-be-star, and Joel Edgerton. The studio held sneak previews in 550 theaters nationwide last weekend to help build buzz. The move helped as it has been received more warmly by critics than "Contagion."

"The Debt," Focus Features' adult holdover, took in 4.9 million dollars in fourth place. It has grossed 22 million dollars in two weeks.

Rounding out the 10 most-popular movies in the United States and Canada this weekend, are "Colombiana" (4 million dollars), " Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes" (3.9 million dollars), "Shark Night" (3.5 million dollars), "Apollo 18" (2.9 million dollars), " Our Idiot Brother" (2.7 million dollars) and "Spy Kids 4: All The Time In The World" (2.5 million dollars).

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