By Sarah Sluis
For the second week in a row, the re-release of The Lion King (which included 3D screens) grabbed the most box office, finishing with $22.1 million, a dip of 26%. The success of Disney's classic animated tale will surely inspire other studios to scramble to find movies in their libraries to re-release and add more to their bottom lines. However, The Lion King is part of a rarefied group. With the extra $60 million the movie has earned, it's now the twelfth-highest grossing movie of all time, domestically. In fact, The Lion King may make its way into the top ten if it stays in release for a couple more weeks.
According to weekend estimates, Moneyball currently has a narrow claim on second place over Dolphin Tale, earning $20.6 million to the third place finisher's $20.2 million. While the positive reviews at the Toronto Film Festival all but guaranteed that Moneyball would debut strongly, Dolphin Tale's success is a bit more of a surprise. The movie earned an A+ CinemaScore from viewers, the same high mark given by Soul Surfer's audience. Inspirational, PG-rated movies are something of a rarity in the market, and the addition of an injured dolphin to the formula (hearkening back to Free Willy) probably boosted returns even higher. Alcon Entertainment, which produced The Blind Side, was also behind Dolphin Tale. There's a certain group of movies about overcoming adversity that seem to hit a sweet spot with viewers. It can't be a depressing, Precious level of adversity, but just enough to warm the heart. These kinds of movies (I'm thinking of Marley & Me, The Pursuit of Happyness, Soul Surfer, The Blind Side) have resonated widely with audiences.
Taylor Lautner should redouble his efforts in romances like the Twilight series because Abduction earned $11.2 million by wrangling up audiences that were 68% female and mostly under 25--the opposite of a normal action movie's demographics. However, considering critics gave the movie a 3% positive rating, an eight-digit opening weekend is probably the best this poorly received movie can hope for. Unsurprisingly, females under 18 gave the movie an A-, while everyone else's scores averaged out to a B-.
Killer Elite, the first effort from newbie distributor Open Road, finished on the low side of expectations with $9.5 million. Jason Statham is something of an action movie workhorse, but many of his other actioners have doubled this opening weekend, including The Mechanic and Transporter 3. Still, with its solid cast, which includes Robert De Niro and Clive Owen, this movie should do well in home markets.
The gay romance Weekend, which our critic David Noh raved about, should have planned for a bigger run. It earned $25,000 over the weekend to sold-out screenings at one theatre. Its performance in coming weekends should be strong, especially if it expands to other locations. Other specialty releases had more middling results. Machine Gun Preacher averaged $11,000 per screen at four locations. Cameron Crowe-directed rockumentary Pearl Jam Twenty did slightly better, averaging $12,700 per screen at seven locations.
This Friday, cancer comedy 50/50 will hit theatres along with romantic comedy What's Your Number?, the thriller Dream House and the faith-based drama Courageous.