BOX OFFICE: ‘Lion King 3D’ Stays on Top for Biggest Weekend Since August

It was a very close race this weekend at the Box Office, but The Lion King 3D manages to hold off newcomers Moneyball, Dolphin Tale, Abduction, and Killer Elite to maintain the top spot. It had the benefit of the inflated 3D ticket prices, but was also in fewer theatres than any of the four new releases. Many limited releases performed well also including Weekend, which opened with $25,000 per screen, and Machine Gun Preacher, which had $11,000 per screen.

Box Office Estimates
September 23-25, 2011

1) The Lion King 3D (2nd Week)
ESTIMATE: $22.13 million

As much as I love this Disney animated gem, I’m disappointed because I know the success of this movie will lead to an inevitable onslaught of 3D re-releases. I do want to see The Lion King again on the big screen, but I’d rather not support a dying trend that I’d like to see go away.

2) Moneyball (Opening)
ESTIMATE: $20.6 million

Moneyball finished neck and neck with Dolphin Tale, but when you look at the per theatre averages, Moneyball was far ahead. I have no doubt that this will be a film with legs and probably stay in the weekend top ten for 6 weeks or more much like The Social Network did last year.

3) Dolphin Tale (Opening)
ESTIMATE: $20.26 million

Dolphin Tale might catch up to Moneyball when the actuals come in tomorrow, but it will be close. However, I don’t anticipate that this family friendly film will play as long as the Oscar-friendly baseball film. Alternative Film Guide proposed an interesting theory that Morgan Freeman’s criticism of the Tea Party may have affected the gross. I doubt that’s true, but a great idea nonetheless.

4) Abduction (Opening)
ESTIMATE: $11.2 million

By far the worst reviewed film of the weekend with a paltry 3% on Rotten Tomatoes. I can’t imagine this movie would attract many people other than Twilight fanatics who are only hoping for a glimpse at the pretty but talentless Taylor Lautner.

5) Killer Elite (Opening)
ESTIMATE: $9.5 million

This movie had the lowest opening of the wide releases this weekend, yet it had the highest budget at almost $70 million. I think we can be assured that there will not be a Killer Elite 2, but this opening also says something interesting about the Box Office potential of Jason Statham considering the last movies that have featured him as a central character have had cumulative grosses of less than $40 million.

6) Contagion (3rd Weekend)
ESTIMATE: $8.57 million

The A-list cast and decent reviews have kept this film performing well and I expect that it will stay around the top ten longer than Dolphin Tale and Abduction.

7) Drive (2nd Weekend)
ESTIMATE: $5.77 million

I am disappointed to see this film drop as much as it did in its second weekend, although I’m kind of surprised that it received a wide release at all considering it seems to have a more niche audience. I might see it a second time simply to do my part to help its Box Office run.

8) The Help (7th Weekend)
ESTIMATE: $4.4 million

Now that Rise of the Planet of the Apes has been knocked out of the top ten, The Help is the longest running movie on this list. It also becomes the 12th highest grossing movie of the year. I wouldn’t be surprised if Dreamworks brought this movie back into theatres around Oscar nominations time, just to make sure it stays on the memory of voters.

9) Straw Dogs (2nd Weekend)
ESTIMATE: $2.1 million

With a drop of 59% Straw Dogs was this weekend’s biggest loser. It also has one of the lowest per theatre averages of the week which means that when it gets a decrease in screen count it will drop far down this list.

10) I Don’t Know How She Does It (2nd Weekend)
ESTIMATE: $2.05 million

This film also has a very low per theatre average and probably will lose its few customers to What’s Your Number when that comes out next week.

Estimates are courtesy of Box Office Mojo. Look for 50/50 to dethrone The Lion King next weekend with Moneyball staying near the top.

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