Weekend Box Office: ‘Contagion’ Set to Take Out ‘The Help’

Over the last three weekends, no new release has been able to oust The Help from its top spot. But this weekend one film just might have a chance. Steven Soderbergh’s Contagion stars Matt Damon, Gwyneth Paltrow, Jude Law, Marion Cotillard, Kate Winslet, and Laurence Fishburne in a medical thriller that sees the world crippled by the outbreak of an untreatable, rapidly progressing disease. Warner Bros. (NYSE:TWX) pulled out all the stops with this one, which is sure to enjoy a lucrative opening weekend at the box office.

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However, this weekend’s Contagion might be the only thing that’s catching, and Disney’s (NYSE:DIS) and DreamWorks’ The Help could cling to the number two spot, with Lionsgate’s (NYSE:LGF) Warrior settling for third place. The male-oriented, martial-arts drama stars Tom Hardy, Joel Edgerton, and Nick Nolte.

Also being released this weekend are Sony’s (NYSE:SNE) comedy Bucky Larson: Born to Be a Star and The Bubble Factory’s swamp-thing horror film Creature. On Saturday night, Sex and the City Fans will be treated to a sneak peek at the upcoming Sarah Jessica Parker comedy I Don’t Know How She Does It.

But no film stands a chance against the all-star cast of Contagion. Though the film is unlikely to do the kind of damage done by this summer’s heavyweights — namely Transformers: Dark of the Moon and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 — considering its fall released and under $60 million production budget, its projected $20 million-plus opening is nothing to scoff at.

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Contagion will open in 3,222 theaters nationwide, including 257 IMAX (NASDAQ:IMAX) locations. Meanwhile, Warrior, expected to take in a more modest $8 million this weekend, will be opening in 1,869 theaters nationwide. Sony’s R-rated Bucky Larson, is looking at an opening of about $4 million, while the independently produced Creature would be happy with half that, as the Lousiana-set monster movie opens on 1,507 screens in the U.S. and 150 in Canada. I Don’t Know How She Does It will play in 800 theaters on Saturday night ahead of its nationwide release on September 16.