Weekend Box Office: Dolphin Tale on top

HollywoodNews.com: Four new releases fought for a piece of the box office pie and, with the exception of a lower-profile Christian drama playing in 1,100 screens, none of them had much bite. The top three movies from last weekend were the top three movies this weekend as well, just in different order. The top film of the weekend was Dolphin Tale, which actually rose two spots from its third-place debut last weekend. More impressive than its ranking (as rankings are less important than actual numbers) is its mere 26% drop. The $37 million ‘help a wounded dolphin’ family drama grossed another $14.2 million and now has a ten-day cume of $37 million. It’s not a boffo figure, but the film is obviously playing well, especially in the face of the return of Simba (more on that in a minute). And if Disney really does pull The Lion King 3D from theaters next weekend (no word yet, but the Blu Ray streets this Tuesday), it will have the family market to itself until October 28th, which is where Dreamworks moved Puss In Boots just a couple days ago (it was supposed to launch on November 4th).

Staying strong in second place yet again was the Brad Pitt baseball drama Moneyball. The critically-acclaimed (review) and surprisingly audience-pleasing (I know quite a few general moviegoers who saw and enjoyed it over the last ten days) drama dropped just 35% for a $12.5 million gross in weekend two. The $50 million production now has $38.4 million in ten days. That’s a bit below the respective ten-day totals of recent popular adult dramas such as The Social Network ($46 million), The Town ($48 million), and Contagion ($44 million – it’s now at $64 million), but the picture should still a decent shot, especially with year-end awards consideration, of clearing $76 million and supplanting The Rookie as the second-biggest baseball movie ever behind A League of Her Own ($107 million).

In third place was the stunningly successful relaunch of The Lion King (essay) which pulled in another $11.1 million in what may or may not be its last weekend. The re-release alone has earned $79 million, meaning that The Lion King is now the third animated film in history to cross $400 million in domestic grosses and is, at $408 million, within an earshot of surpassing the $415 million gross of Toy Story 3. With about $880 million worldwide, it’s just $6 million away from overtaking Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs ($886 million) as the third-biggest animated film in worldwide box office history. Many breathless words have been written about this one in the last few weeks, so I’ll only repeat that this could be as much of a game-changer as Avatar was two years ago.

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