In spite of four new releases this weekend, ‘The Lion King (in 3D)’ held the top spot for the second weekend in a row with an estimated $22.1 million. Disney’s re-relase of the immensely popular 1994 movie has now grossed $61.7 million, bringing the film’s total gross including its initial release to $390.2 million, making it the 12th highest grossing film of all time in the United States.
The critically acclaimed baseball drama ‘Moneyball’ debuted above industry expectations to $20.6 million. ‘Moneyball’, based on the best-selling novel and starring Brad Pitt, had the highest opening of all time for a baseball film. Its received an “A” from CinemaScore, indicating positive word-of-mouth and a good sign for the road ahead.
Despite The Lion King’s popularity, family friendly ‘Dolphin Tale’ took in an estimated $20.26 million and may even end up above ‘Moneyball’ when actual grosses are reported on Monday. Its opening was on the higher end when compared to similar films such as ‘Hotel for Dogs’ or ‘Eight Below’, and because family films tend to have strong legs, ‘Dolphin Tale’ should end up being yet another box office success for star Morgan Freeman.
The other two new releases failed to draw in large crowds. ‘Abduction’, starring the ‘Twilight’ franchise’s Taylor Lautner, grossed $11.2 million. Reviews and word-of-mouth have been overwhelmingly poor, and action films in general typically decline greatly after the opening weekend. ‘Killer Elite’, starring Clive Owen and Jason Statham, grossed around $9.5 million this weekend. With an estimated budget of $70 million, ‘Killer Elite’ will likely end up with around $25 million as its final gross, resulting in a huge loss for distributor Open Road Films.
In spite of the soft openings of the latter two films, the weekend box office will come out to around $116 million, making it the highest-grossing September weekend of all time. However, due to inflated ticket pricing and 3D premiums, this weekend is a far cry from past Septembers in terms of estimated attendance.