Box Office: It's Good To Be The Lion King

Moneyball, Dolphin Tale also strong; Abduction, Killer Elite weak.



Multiplexes across North America were busier than normal for this time of year as the hit re-release The Lion King 3D held onto the number one spot for a second frame driving the box office to a new record high for the month of September. Moviegoers also lined up for Seven partners Brad Pitt and Morgan Freeman as their new releases Moneyball and Dolphin Tale both debuted higher than expected in a close battle for second place. For the first time in history, three different films grossed north of $20M on the same September weekend as the Top 20 soared to a stellar $115M - a new record for the back-to-school month.

Thanks to a remarkable sophomore hold, The Lion King 3D ruled over the charts for a second weekend in a row just as the original blockbuster did back in June 1994. The G-rated re-release slipped only 27% and grossed an estimated $22.1M boosting its ten-day cume to a fantastic $61.7M. Despite intense competition for kids and parents, the Hakuna Matata pic remained wildly popular with a wide array of moviegoers allowing it to cling to the number one spot. King's lifetime total (including 2003's IMAX release) climbed to $390.2M putting it at number 12 on the list of all-time domestic blockbusters.

Stunted as a two-week-only event, the updated Lion King is scheduled to leave theaters this Thursday and hit Blu-ray 3D the following week on October 4. However, the studio's past two-week runs for Toy Story and Miley Cyrus films were extended and the same is expected for Simba given how much money it is still making. Despite its current home video availability, people still want to experience the beloved film on the big screen and many are introducing it to a new generation of children or just reliving their younger days. An extended theatrical run could deposit another $40M+ into Disney's vault and allow the re-release to surpass the $100M barrier.

Actor/producer Brad Pitt clinched second place but still scored a major victory with crtics and movie fans alike with his baseball drama Moneyball which opened to an estimated $20.6M. The Sony release averaged a solid $6,883 per site from 2,993 locations and played to a much older adult crowd although the gender split was about even. Studio research showed that 64% of the audience was over 35 while males made up 51%. Based on the true story of how the 2002 Oakland A's rebuilt their team after losing their best players, Moneyball earned high praise across the board from film critics. Moviegoers were equally pleased with the PG-13 pic earning a promising A CinemaScore.

With strong reviews, stellar word-of-mouth, and an older audience not likely to rush out on opening weekend, Moneyball is well-positioned to enjoy solid legs in the weeks ahead. Baseball is about to start its post-season so the film will remain topical for weeks to come. Plus Pitt is earning plenty of Oscar buzz for his acting performance which will keep the film hot too. Overseas prospects are promising too despite the baseball theme because of Pitt's incredible box office pull around the world. With a reported $50M production cost, Moneyball may be able to find its way to $250M or more worldwide.

Another uplifting film based on a true story opened close behind in third. The Warner Bros. release Dolphin Tale scored big points with audiences collecting an estimated $20.3M this weekend averaging a good $5,777 from 3,507 locations. Playing in 2D and 3D, the PG-rated tale about an injured dolphin and the people who help her saw 50% of its gross come from the extra-dimensional screens. Reviews were very good and audiences loved what they saw giving Tale an amazing A+ CinemaScore grade. Saturday saw a tremendous 70% leap in ticket sales over opening day giving it the best jump in the top ten. Strong legs will keep this feel-good film going in the weeks ahead. Starring Morgan Freeman, Harry Connick Jr., and Ashley Judd, Dolphin Tale's performance was especially impressive given how much of the family audience is already distracted by The Lion King right now.

If none of next weekend's four new releases truly pop then Moneyball and Dolphin Tale could find themselves in another fierce battle - this time for the number one spot. Breaking the $100M mark this fall is certainly a possibility for each film.

Teen girls came out in lukewarm numbers for their favorite shirtless wolf Taylor Lautner who saw an estimated $11.2M opening for his first starring vehicle Abduction. Lionsgate went very wide with the PG-13 thriller going out in 3,118 theaters which resulted in a mild $3,592 average. The distributor rarely releases a film in 3,000+ playdates. Studio research showed that the audience was 68% female and 56% under 25 indicating that the critically-panned film struggled to find appeal outside of its primary young-female quadrant. But at least Lautner found more success than his Twilight co-stars and broke double digit millions. Kristen Stewart's Adventureland bowed to just $5.7M while Robert Pattinson's Remember Me debuted to $8.1M. The vampire heartthrob did score a nice hit earlier this year with the romance Water for Elephants which opened to $16.8M, however that film was led by bankable Oscar winner Reese Witherspoon.

Rookie distributor Open Road saw a slow start with its first release Killer Elite which posted the worst opening among the four new films this weekend with an estimated $9.5M. The R-rated actioner starring Jason Statham, Clive Owen, and Robert De Niro averaged a weak $3,182 from 2,986 theaters. Its 9% Friday-to-Saturday bump was also the lowest for any freshman flick. Reviews from critics were mostly negative but audiences were somewhat kinder to film which earned a mediocre B grade from CinemaScore.

Holdovers rounded out the top ten with mixed results. The virus thriller Contagion held up well with an estimated $8.6M, off 41%, for a $57.1M cume for Warner Bros. All the love showered by critics on the crime drama Drive failed to do much as the FilmDistrict release fell 49% to an estimated $5.8M giving the Ryan Gosling starrer $21.4M in ten days. That may seem like a lot for an art film, but its 2,900-theater release does not come with low P&A expenses. Drive averaged a slow $1,987 per location this weekend from 2,904 sites.

The Help followed with an estimated $4.4M, down just 32%, giving Disney $154.4M to date. Sony's remake Straw Dogs collapsed in its second outing tumbling 59% to an estimated $2.1M and a measly $8.9M in ten days. Also rejected by moviegoers, Sarah Jessica Parker's comedy I Don't Know How She Does It dropped 53% to an estimated $2.1M. The Weinstein Co. has taken in a paltry $8M.

Gerard Butler's Africa-set drama Machine Gun Preacher got off to a good start in platform release with an estimated $44,000 from two theaters each in New York and Los Angeles for a $11,000 average. Drawing mixed reviews, the R-rated film expands to 15 major markets on Friday through Relativity Media.

The top ten films grossed a September record $106.6M which was up 20% from last year when Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps opened in the top spot with $19M; and up 34% from 2009 when Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs remained at number one with $25M in its second weekend.

Written by Gitesh Pandya, Box Office Guru!

Comments

Mr. Bo Ziffer

Mr. Bo Ziffer

I bet the people who saw Lion Kig 3D were PO'd when they saw the ads for The Lion King re-release on Disney 3D Blu-Ray/Blu-Ray/DVD. I know I would be.

"Hey, we should take our kid to see The Lion King at the theaters before crummy old Disney keeps it in the vault for another ten years. It's gonna cost us thirty-five bucks and we have to do it within the next two weeks, but it'll totally be worth it!"

Also, glad that Moneyball earned a good amount of money, and that Taylor Lautner was beaten out by a crippled dolphin.

Sep 25 - 04:29 PM

The.Watcher

The Watcher

I'm amazed at how well Lion King is doing, but I'm pretty sure everyone is as well. Drive and Contagion were both awesome, they both deserve better numbers. That werewolf guy can rot in hell.

Sep 25 - 04:30 PM

Gordon Franklin Terry Sr

Gordon Terry

Its elementary: DRIVE has a 79 % Percent "Audience Approval rating here on R-T and CONTAGION has a 65 % Percent Audience Approval Rating. DRIVE alienates a wider-audience by being dark, quiet, and sporting totally esoteric cinematography and source music. CONTAGION is contrived and predictable.///People of all ages understand and relate to The Lion King--its very mundane and mainstream.

Sep 25 - 04:44 PM

The.Watcher

The Watcher

Contagion most definitely is not contrived - it's realistic, almost like a documentary. It has no main leads, and the story is most definitely not about the characters, it's about the virus. Some people might not like it, some will, but there's nothing contrived about it.

Sep 25 - 06:12 PM

General Wiz

Carlos Flores

So your saying if I remake dance with wolves, but make it like a documentary and not focus on any of the charchters, I'm being original?

Sep 25 - 06:19 PM

General Wiz

Carlos Flores

Charachters is what I meant to say.

Sep 25 - 06:20 PM

The.Watcher

The Watcher

con┬Ětrived - Adjective; 1. Deliberately created rather than arising naturally or spontaneously.; 2. Giving a sense of artificiality. I fail to see how "originality" factors into this conversation.

Sep 26 - 12:31 AM

Wisenheimer

Joshua Dinsmore

I'm more happy for The Lion King then I am surprised.

Sep 25 - 06:26 PM

MAMOVIES

Matheus Cassiano

Same here.

Sep 26 - 10:26 AM

Gordon Franklin Terry Sr

Gordon Terry

YES!!!!!! AWESOME!!!!!!!
I hope more "old" movies are converted to 3D re-released

. . . despite whatever the ten or so people who comment here have to say.

close to $50 Million Dollars in 2-Weeks. The Numbers don't lie regarding public interest.

Sep 25 - 04:31 PM

FourSquareEyes

Johnny Connoisseur

You obviously haven't heard of someone having more money than sense.

Oct 2 - 12:19 AM

Bradley J.

Bradley J

Glad for all the new releases. Dolphin Tale was very good. Surprised that The Lion King is still in number one though.

Sep 25 - 04:34 PM

Odd E.

Odd Even

Lion-3D is waste of money. In this economy? Really?

Sep 25 - 04:35 PM

CFM

'schak Attack

Not for Disney it ain't.

Sep 26 - 08:18 AM

Gordon Franklin Terry Sr

Gordon Terry

Its elementary: DRIVE has a 79 % Percent "Audience Approval rating here on R-T and CONTAGION has a 65 % Percent Audience Approval Rating. DRIVE alienates a wider-audience by being dark, quiet, and sporting totally esoteric cinematography and source music. CONTAGION is contrived and predictable.///People of all ages understand and relate to The Lion King--its very mundane and mainstream.

Sep 25 - 04:44 PM

The.Watcher

The Watcher

Contagion most definitely is not contrived - it's realistic, almost like a documentary. It has no main leads, and the story is most definitely not about the characters, it's about the virus. Some people might not like it, some will, but there's nothing contrived about it.

Sep 25 - 06:12 PM

General Wiz

Carlos Flores

So your saying if I remake dance with wolves, but make it like a documentary and not focus on any of the charchters, I'm being original?

Sep 25 - 06:19 PM

General Wiz

Carlos Flores

Charachters is what I meant to say.

Sep 25 - 06:20 PM

The.Watcher

The Watcher

con┬Ětrived - Adjective; 1. Deliberately created rather than arising naturally or spontaneously.; 2. Giving a sense of artificiality. I fail to see how "originality" factors into this conversation.

Sep 26 - 12:31 AM

General Wiz

Carlos Flores

I saw Moneyball and it was fantastic, one of the best sports movies I've seen. It's too early to call the oscars, bur Brad Pitt and Jonah Hill are among the leading contenders along with Sorkin for the screen play. He's one of the best writers working today. It will show great legs. Dolphin Tale exceed my expectations by a long shot as well. I guess the blind side connection really moved tickets. It also looks like 3-D has made full comeback. It's also impressive consider it's the last Familly movie till puss in boots. It has October all to itself, with the lion king leaving the fray soon. Next week will be another close contest. Lion king will probally start leaving many theaters, so it should see a above average drop. Moneyball and Dolphin Tale both could stay in the high teens next week. Dream house will probally win out though. I'd like to say 50/50 has a shot as well, but the cancer comedy plot will probally be a turn off.

Sep 25 - 04:48 PM

Brad H.

Brad Hadfield

Dolphin Tale featured a great true story and good actors. I think its success can be attributed to parents thrilled to take their kids to a wholesome movie that featured actual people as opposed to cartoons and CGI smurfshit.

Sep 25 - 04:57 PM

General Wiz

Carlos Flores

Well, condsidering smurfshit and most cartoons still made more, I'm not sure that's really the reason. It's probally a contributing factor though.

Sep 25 - 05:02 PM

Brad H.

Brad Hadfield

Smurfshit will always prevail, but it surprises me a bit when something decent is so underestimated.

Sep 25 - 05:14 PM

Isaac

Isaac H

Moneyball was spectacular. One of 2011's best. Glad it performed so well, but disappointed that Lion King held up so well that it was able to beat it. Still, I'll be rooting for Moneyball in the weeks ahead and am looking forward to 50/50 next weekend.

Sep 25 - 04:48 PM

King Crunk

King Crunk

Sucks for Drive, hopefully it is not forgotten about come awards season. One of my personal favorite movies to come out in a long time.

Glad Moneyball is on track to do great, and Abudction was largely avoided. Hopefully Lautner will stop getting offered lead roles.

Sep 25 - 04:55 PM

Isaac

Isaac H

AMEN to that!

Sep 25 - 08:04 PM

Brad H.

Brad Hadfield

Dolphin Tale featured a great true story and good actors. I think its success can be attributed to parents thrilled to take their kids to a wholesome movie that featured actual people as opposed to cartoons and CGI smurfshit.

Sep 25 - 04:57 PM

General Wiz

Carlos Flores

Well, condsidering smurfshit and most cartoons still made more, I'm not sure that's really the reason. It's probally a contributing factor though.

Sep 25 - 05:02 PM

Brad H.

Brad Hadfield

Smurfshit will always prevail, but it surprises me a bit when something decent is so underestimated.

Sep 25 - 05:14 PM

Brad H.

Brad Hadfield

Hollywood's Lautner action hero plans...ABolished!

Sep 25 - 05:00 PM

King Crunk

King Crunk

ZING!

Sep 25 - 05:49 PM

Brad and Netflix

Bradly Martin

The problem is that Hollywood just doesn't understand the Twilight Phenomenon, at all. Tweens don't like Robert Pattinson, Kristen Stewart, and Taylor Lautner. They Love Edward Bella and Jacob. Their outside projects from Twilight prove this time and time again.

It's the Weirdest thing. Find a twilight fan and watch Remember me with them. They make no connection that the Man on screen is the same one playing Taylor Lautner. Hell save your self the torture of watching Remember me and watch Goblet of fire. They could give a crap about Roberts Performance as Diggory! It's the Weirdest thing!

Sep 26 - 08:55 AM

General Wiz

Carlos Flores

Well, condsidering smurfshit and most cartoons still made more, I'm not sure that's really the reason. It's probally a contributing factor though.

Sep 25 - 05:02 PM

Brad H.

Brad Hadfield

Smurfshit will always prevail, but it surprises me a bit when something decent is so underestimated.

Sep 25 - 05:14 PM

Jacob H.

Jacob Holmes

wow I didn't expect Lion King to stay on top. I didn't see anything this weekend but I might see Moneyball sometime soon. I kind of expected the two week run on Lion King to get extended after its strong opening. Also, Toy Story and Toy Story 2 got that treatment as well. I'm glad Abduction and Killer Elite are both set to tank. I think audiences are starting to become aware just how dumb most action movies are nowadays

Sep 25 - 05:11 PM

Corr

Alexander Sciury

Surprised the Lion King is holding up this well. Too bad because I wanted Moneyball to get #1, but at least it's off to an impressive start. Same with Dolphin Tale, did not expect that to get a $20 Mill. opening gross.
Abduction and Killer Elite disappointed. I don't care about Abudction, but too bad Killer Elite didn't do well, I thought it actually looked pretty good.

Sep 25 - 05:13 PM

Brad H.

Brad Hadfield

Smurfshit will always prevail, but it surprises me a bit when something decent is so underestimated.

Sep 25 - 05:14 PM

King Crunk

King Crunk

ZING!

Sep 25 - 05:49 PM

Brad and Netflix

Bradly Martin

The problem is that Hollywood just doesn't understand the Twilight Phenomenon, at all. Tweens don't like Robert Pattinson, Kristen Stewart, and Taylor Lautner. They Love Edward Bella and Jacob. Their outside projects from Twilight prove this time and time again.

It's the Weirdest thing. Find a twilight fan and watch Remember me with them. They make no connection that the Man on screen is the same one playing Taylor Lautner. Hell save your self the torture of watching Remember me and watch Goblet of fire. They could give a crap about Roberts Performance as Diggory! It's the Weirdest thing!

Sep 26 - 08:55 AM

okayflint

First Last

I was surprised with how many people were at my screening of drive on saturday night. Normally even the big releases are fairly empty on opening weekend nights at this theater due to cheaper options being within reasonable traveling distances. But still a bit of a bummer it isn't doing better. Incredible Film. It's pretty obvious DeNiro and Statham can't open films anymore, Especially with a chunk of their stuff going direct to dvd. Inevitable I guess, due to their inability to pass on a project.

Sep 25 - 05:52 PM

Kadeem S.

Kadeem Stewart

Glad to see The Lion King beat Moneyball and Dolphin Tale. Abduction got a good and somewhat mild start (B- is not that bad from teenagers) and Killer Ellite wasn't a success since last January's The Mechanic, but it fared well rounding out the Top Five.

Sep 25 - 05:57 PM

General Wiz

Carlos Flores

If Hollywood is just hoping for Taylor to be the next Jason Statham then that is a pretty good star. If he just stays in shape and keeps his film's budjets low, he could still have a good carreer. Also, it's worth noting it's Saturday was up from it's Friday, which is rare for this type of movie which are usually Friday front loaded. Still, I get the feeling Hollywood was boing he'd be a Robert Downey Jr. Or Johnny Depp type Draw, which was never going to happen because he is trully a awful actor if their ever was one.

Sep 25 - 06:11 PM

Kadeem S.

Kadeem Stewart

FYI, he's an action star not some kind of dancer at Chippendales.

Sep 26 - 12:13 AM

General Wiz

Carlos Flores

Now, when did I even come close to saying he was a chimpindel dancer? I seems to me like I said that I agree, if he has an future, it's as an action star.

Sep 26 - 04:49 AM

King Crunk

King Crunk

I bet you could find Chippendale's dancers that are more credible action stars than him, though......

Sep 26 - 09:03 AM

Manuel G.

Manuel Granados

King you can find rocks with painted faces that are more credible actors than him.

Sep 26 - 11:52 AM

Noah James

Noah Kinsey

Hilarious, Manuel

Sep 27 - 06:20 PM

General Wiz

Carlos Flores

Start, not star.

Sep 25 - 06:12 PM

Brad H.

Brad Hadfield

You're glad to see a re-release in 3D beat Moneyball, something new and original? Ooookay. No offense to Lion King, but all this success simply means we'll be inundated with cash-grab 3D conversion re-releases now. Also, I have to disagree with your Abduction assessment. The B- is horrible. The crowd that went, young girls, would've easily been predicted to give it an A just because Taylor was in it. The fact that it scored so much lower means some of them actually admitted it sucked despite his presence. And that says a lot coming from them.

Sep 25 - 08:26 PM

Kadeem S.

Kadeem Stewart

The reason why Abduction got a solid B- is that they don't give a rat's ass what the critics are saying. They just want to see the movie what everybody wants to see. Your comment is a little mixed, but I have to disagree with you.

Sep 26 - 12:12 AM

Brad H.

Brad Hadfield

A solid B-. That's funny.

Sep 26 - 05:44 AM

King  S.

King Simba

Okay, you really need to understand that these scores given to films can be very inflated because they're taken at the opening weekend, meaning its usually fans of the movie who do the voting, meaning that they'll be much kinder to a film than regular audiances. A B score typically means mixed word of mouth, while a B-, well that's what Green Lantern earned, and we all know how badly that film collapsed. The fact that even fans of Taylor Lautner are giving it meh marks proves how weak the reception is for this film.

Also, an 11 mil opening weekend for one of the supposedly hottest young actors around is pretty weak, especially given that this is an action thriller, not a weepy drama (like Remember Me), which is one of best genres for a star to put his draw power on. To put it into comparison, Liam Neeson, who aside from Taken typically only does well when he's a supporting player in a big franchise, managed an opening twice as big with Unknown earlier this year, while another young star, Shia Lebouf (too lazy to check spelling of the name) managed an opening 3 times as big with Eagle Eye. If this is what Lautner can manage at the height of his popularity (unless he can suddenly go 180 and pull on oscar worthy preformance in his next film, he ain't getting more popular) then I can't imagine what will happen to him 10 years from now.

Sep 26 - 07:40 AM

Noah James

Noah Kinsey

Exactly, King S. I've said it a billion times (and will probably have to say it a billion more) that the CinemaScore is how well the movie met EXPECTATIONS of the masses (meaning those whose only exposure is studio marketing). It's not an alternative to the critics' average. That's why Smurfs got a positive score (it was EXACTLY what people expected)and Drive got a negative one (marketing was misleading).

Sep 26 - 10:19 AM

General Wiz

Carlos Flores

If Hollywood is just hoping for Taylor to be the next Jason Statham then that is a pretty good star. If he just stays in shape and keeps his film's budjets low, he could still have a good carreer. Also, it's worth noting it's Saturday was up from it's Friday, which is rare for this type of movie which are usually Friday front loaded. Still, I get the feeling Hollywood was boing he'd be a Robert Downey Jr. Or Johnny Depp type Draw, which was never going to happen because he is trully a awful actor if their ever was one.

Sep 25 - 06:11 PM

Kadeem S.

Kadeem Stewart

FYI, he's an action star not some kind of dancer at Chippendales.

Sep 26 - 12:13 AM

General Wiz

Carlos Flores

Now, when did I even come close to saying he was a chimpindel dancer? I seems to me like I said that I agree, if he has an future, it's as an action star.

Sep 26 - 04:49 AM

King Crunk

King Crunk

I bet you could find Chippendale's dancers that are more credible action stars than him, though......

Sep 26 - 09:03 AM

Manuel G.

Manuel Granados

King you can find rocks with painted faces that are more credible actors than him.

Sep 26 - 11:52 AM

Noah James

Noah Kinsey

Hilarious, Manuel

Sep 27 - 06:20 PM

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