Associated Press
In this film image released by Universal Pictures, Mark Wahlberg, left, and Ben Foster are shown in a scene from \"Contraband.\"

LOS ANGELES — "Contraband" managed to steal the top slot away from competitors at the weekend box office.

The Universal action drama film starring Mark Wahlberg as a reformed smuggler debuted above expectations at No. 1 with $24 million, while Disney's 3-D rerelease of "Beauty and the Beast" waltzed into the No. 2 position with $18.5 million, according to studio estimates Sunday. Both films helped boost Hollywood's business after a sluggish holiday season.

"It's great to have an uptick in the total box office, and Universal is thrilled that 'Contraband' was the driving force behind that," said Nikki Rocco, head of distribution for the studio. "I think it's combination of a great marketing campaign, audiences love Mark Wahlberg and (producer) Working Title made a terrific movie, particularly for the cost."

"Joyful Noise," the Warner Bros.' musical comedy starring Queen Latifah and Dolly Parton, opened below expectations with $11.3 million in the No. 4 spot behind Paramount's "Mission: Impossible — Ghost Protocol," which earned $11.5 million in its fifth week, bringing the total haul of the fourth installment of the Tom Cruise action franchise to $186.7 million.

"The Devil Inside," Paramount's horror film that scared up a massive $33.7 million debut last weekend, experienced a steep 77 percent drop in its second weekend, coming in at No. 6 with $7.9 million. analyst Paul Dergarabedian said the film's terrifying plunge didn't matter because the independently produced movie already made a huge profit.

"Horror movies typically drop big, but that is a huge drop," said Dergarabedian. "It doesn't matter because 'Devil Inside' is a profit-making machine. If your budget is low enough, who cares if it drops big and you're making money? It's already one of the most profitable films of the past year, so there's nothing really to complain about there."

Overall domestic revenues totaled $114.5 million, on par with the same weekend last year, when "The Green Hornet" led with $33.5 million and the box office totaled $115 million, according to box-office tracker

Estimated ticket sales for Friday through Sunday at U.S. and Canadian theaters, according to Final domestic figures will be released Monday.

1. "Contraband," $24 million.

2. "Beauty and the Beast," $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," $5.3 million.


AP Entertainment Writer Derrik J. Lang can be reached at