Mark Wahlberg Vs The Beast Vs…Dolly Parton? – Biff Bam Pop’s Box Office Predictions, Weekend of January 13th, 2012

Three films hit wide release at the box office this weekend – two brand new offerings, and a heritage animated film that’s been transformed into a 3D extravaganza. Can Mark Wahlberg take down Belle and the Beast, or will the classic Disney love story claim the top spot? Here’s our predictions:

Contraband is the latest action film from Mark Wahlberg, and tells the story of a retired drug runner forced back into “the life” (just when he thought he was out, they yadda yadda yadda.) The film has a stellar cast that includes Kate Beckinsale, Ben Foster, Giovani Ribisi, and J.K. Simmons, and audiences could be primed for another action flick, since Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol has been out for a while now. Any other weekend and I’d say Contraband would be a likely number one at the box office, but I don’t think we can underestimate the might of Disney. On that note, look for a solid debut at number two for Contraband, with $20 million.

Speaking of Disney, Beauty and the Beast is back in theatres for a limited time, remastered in 3D, much like The Lion King was last fall. I think most pundits, including myself, underestimated the draw that film had for audiences. I’m hesitant to do it again. Disney films have that amazing built in audience, and there’s little question that Beauty and the Beast is a classic. Throw in the 3D and I think the film is a lock for number one, with a gross of $25 million.

The other new film in wide release this weekend is Joyful Noise, staring Queen Latifah and Dolly Parton as two women forced to work together when a small town choir may be forced to shut down. It’s an interesting combination with the two leading ladies, but I think Dolly’s days as a movie star are still stuck in the 80’s, and she won’t really bring in an audience. The success or failure of Joyful Noise is really going to rest on the shoulders of Queen Latifah. I’m not expecting much from the film – look for a fourth place showing with $13 million.

As for the rest of the top five, Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol will begin its descent from the box office heights, winding up at number three with $15 million, while Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows should round out the top five with $11.5 million.

So, to recap, here are our predictions:

1) Beauty and the Beast – $25 million
2) Contraband – $20 million
3) Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol – $15 million
4) Joyful Noise – $13 million 
5) Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows – $11.5 million

Be sure to check back on Sunday to see how the weekend turns out!

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