– by Joseph Jammer Medina

Universal Pictures’ “Contraband” grossed better than expected with an opening of $24.1 million over the Martin Luther King, Jr. weekend for first place.

The film was a remake from the 2008 Icelandic movie “Reykjavik-Rotterdam” which starred Baltasar Kormakur.

“Contraband” was directed by Kormakur. It also starred Kate Beckinsale, Giovanni Ribisi, Ben Foster, Lukas Haas, Diego Luna and J.K. Simmons.  It is about a former smuggler heading to Panama to score millions of dollars in counterfeit bills to protect his brother-in-law.

Walt Disney’s 3D re-release of “Beauty and the Beast” placed second with nearly $18.5 million. It continues the success for Walt Disney to re-release its animated classics in the 3D format since last fall’s “The Lion King.” The movie’s 3D share was at 97 percent, which was higher than “The Lion King” share of 92 percent.

Disney plans to re-release “Finding Nemo” in 3D this fall.

In rounding out the top five, “Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol” placed third with $11.5 million, a drop of 42 percent from the previous weekend. Its total domestic gross is a little over $186 mllion.

In fourth place, Warner Brothers’ “Joyful Noise” opened with $11.3 million. The musical comedy stars Queen Latifah, Dolly Parton, Keke Palmer, Jeremy Jordon, Dexter Darden and Courtney B. Vance.

“Joyful Noise” is about a choir group trying to overcome their differences before a national competition.

And “Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows” fell to fifth place with $8.41 million, a decrease of 39 percent from the previous weekend.

As for last weekend’s top grossing film “The Devil Inside,” it fell 77 percent to sixth place with $7.9 million. The decline was the 19th-biggest drop on record and the worst since 2009’s “Jonas Brothers: The 3D Concert Experience” that dropped 77.4 percent, according to Box Office Mojo.

For next weekend, a few action movies will make their premieres including “Underworld: Awakening,” “Haywire,” and “Red Tails.”

Here is the WEEKEND BOX REPORT for January 13-15, 2012:

1. Contraband $24.1 million
2. Beauty and the Beast 3D $18.49 million
3. Mission: Impossible — Ghost Protocol $11.5 million
4. Joyful Noise $11.345 million
5. Sherlock Holmes: The Game of Shadows $8.41 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 $5.607 million
10. We Bought a Zoo $5.2 million

Source: BoxOffice.com, Box Office Mojo