'Contagion' Slays 'Warrior' At Weekend Box Office

'Bucky Larson' flops as 'The Help' remains strong at #2.

We wouldn't be surprised by a spike in hand-sanitizer sales over the weekend, considering how many folks saw "Contagion." Filmmaker Steven Soderbergh's procedural thriller -- about a pandemic spread through doorknobs, Blackberrys and handshakes -- was the #1 movie at the box office, with an estimated $23.1 million debut.

[article id="1670540"]"Contagion" -- which stars[/article] a remarkable number of Academy Award nominees and winners -- Matt Damon, Gwyneth Paltrow, Kate Winslet, Marion Cotillard, John Hawkes, Elliott Gould, Jude Law and Laurence Fishburne -- has been a hit with critics, with 82 percent of them reviewing the film favorably, according to Rotten Tomatoes.

"Warrior" also boasted 82 percent on the Tomatometer at press time but was only able to muster a paltry $5.6 million in its debut, landing the mixed-martial arts drama at #3 on the box-office chart. By comparison, "The Fighter" (which critics also loved) took in $12.1 million in its 2010 debut.

By all accounts Adam Sandler and his Happy Madison pals had a blast making "Bucky Larson: Born to Be a Star," but it's unlikely they were pleased with the film's reception. "Bucky" (which wasn't screened in advance for critics) took in less than $2 million at 1,500 single-screen locations. The movie's $1.45 million is less than half the opening-weekend number of "Grandma's Boy," which starred Bucky co-writer Allen Covert and "Bucky" star Nick Swardson.

Meanwhile "The Help" continued to do great business, landing at #2 with another $8.6 million added to its five-week total (which now stands at over $137 million). The adaptation of the popular novel is now the 14th-highest grossing film of 2011. "The Help" co-star Jessica Chastain also appears in "The Debt," which took in $4.9 million in its second weekend of release to land at #4.

"Columbiana" rounded out the top five with $4 million in its second weekend of release. The Luc Besson-produced female-driven action flick has earned $29.7 million thus far.

This weekend's new releases include the highly touted Ryan Gosling flick "Drive," which Variety wrote "takes the tired heist-gone-bad genre out for a spin, delivering fresh guilty-pleasure thrills in the process."

Check out everything we've got on "Contagion."

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