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‘Contagion’ goes viral

Weekend B.O. was good, bad and ugly

The previous weekend’s domestic B.O. race was a mixed bag of good and — let’s be real — abysmal performances from wide releases.

Starting with the good, Warner Bros.’ “Contagion” scored $22.4 million, which was in line with last year’s hearty post-Labor Day pics “The Town” ($23.8 million) and “The Social Network” ($22.4 million).

Even Lionsgate’s “Warrior,” with a $5.2 million opening, has potential to grow, given the film’s positive critical and audience reactions.

Now to the bad.

A pair of wide releases — one studio pic, one independent — flatlined during opening weekend: Sony’s “Bucky Larson: Born to Be a Star” was one of the lowest-grossing debuts in recent memory for a studio wide release, with just $1.4 million, while indie distrib Bubble Factory took an unusually aggressive wide-release approach with its monster movie “Creature,” which went out on 1,507 locations for a paltry $327,000 — the worst wide release ever.

It’s not uncommon for review-challenged films to hit theaters during late August or early fall; that period has a reputation for being a dumping ground as students go back to school. But adult-skewing counterprogrammers (i.e. “Contagion”) also can find success during the time frame, and those looking for early awards buzz can beat the rush of fourth-quarter product.

“We planted the seed this weekend,” says Lionsgate distribution topper David Spitz, “and we just hope that audiences continue to respond.”

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