Contagion, GWYNETH PALTROW

Warner Bros.

Gwyneth Paltrow's germs caught on in a good way, as Contagion ousted The Help from the top spot at the weekend box office. 

Another A-lister's new movie, however, was avoided like the plague.

The Adam Sandler-cowritten and produced Bucky Larson: Born to Be a Star finished way outside of the Top 10, with a three-day take of less than $1.5 million.

The porn comedy was low budget, reportedly costing less than $10 million, and it was low on on-screen star power, with apologies to stand-up Nick Swardson, but it wasn't exactly a little movie. It opened on 1,500 screens (where, if you do the math, it averaged less than a thousand bucks from each.) 

Among the films from Sandler's Happy Madison Productions, Bucky Larson is the least of the least, opening smaller than Blockbuster-desperation-night rentals such as Grandma's Boy.

As things turned out—and they didn't turn out well for Hollywood—Bucky Larson was not the weekend's worst-opening wide-release movie. That distinction went to the horror movie Creature, starring Greek's Aaron Hill, which "grossed" $220 at each of its 1,507 theaters for a "grand total" of $331,000.

Warrior, the other major new release, was another non-starter. The Tom Hardy fight movie came away with $5.6 million off a reputed $25 million budget.   

Contagion, by comparison, scored a healthy $23.1 million. Still, the Steven Soderbergh thriller, which boasts a Ocean's Eleven-sized cast, including Paltrow, Matt Damon and Kate Winslet, cost $60 million, so the start seems OK, rather than great.

As you might have deduced from all the weak debuts, Hollywood's fall season got off to a considerably smaller start than last year's. The brightest light was supplied by comic Kevin Hart's concert film, Laugh at My Pain, which made $2 million at less than 100 theaters.  

Elsewhere, even The Help tumbled, with ticket sales down 40 percent. Nonetheless, the film, which spent three weekends at No. 1, climbed to nearly $140 million domestically.

Here's a complete look at the weekend's top movies, Friday-Sunday, per estimates as compiled by Exhibitor Relations:

  1. Contagion, $23.1 million
  2. The Help, $8.7 million
  3. Warrior, $5.6 million
  4. The Debt, $4.9 million
  5. Colombiana, $4 million
  6. Rise of the Planet of the Apes, $3.9 million
  7. Shark Night 3D, $3.5 million
  8. Apollo 18, $2.9 million
  9. Our Idiot Brother, $2.8 million
  10. Spy Kids: All the Time in the World in 4D, $2.5 million
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