'Contagion' Cleans Up Box Office with First Place

By DERRIK J. LANG | September 11, 2011 | 2:10 PM EDT

LOS ANGELES (AP) — "Contagion" has infected enough moviegoers to catch the top spot at the box office.

Studio estimates released Sunday show that the Warner Bros. pandemic thriller coughed up $23.1 million in its first weekend.

It was directed by Steven Soderbergh and stars an A-list cast that includes Matt Damon, Kate Winslet, Jude Law and Gwyneth Paltrow.

"The Help" slipped to No. 2 with $8.7 million after three straight weeks at the top, bringing its domestic total to $137 million. The acclaimed DreamWorks Pictures drama distributed by Disney is about black Southern maids speaking out during the civil-rights movement.

"Warrior" punched up a $5.6 million debut in the No. 3 position. The Lionsgate mixed-martial arts drama stars Tom Hardy and Joel Edgerton.