Monday, October 3, 2011

'Dolphin Tale' swims ahead of new releases

By Sarah Sluis

Despite four new movies opening wide, the top three spots at the box office were taken by holdovers. Dolphin Tale rose to first place, dipping just 25% to $14.2 million. The PG-rated inspirational film attracted families and faith-based audiences. Since The Lion King was billed as just a two-week run, Dolphin tale the animated 3D re-release dove 50% to $11 million as many family viewers opted for Dolphin Tale instead. The re-release of the animated classic has added nearly $80 million to the film's box office and will likely spawn more re-releases.

Moneyball finished in third with $12.5 million. As one of the few male-driven movies in the marketplace, the Brad Pitt/Jonah Hill sports stats drama should continue to hold well, as its 35% drop attests.

By a lone, un-radiated hair, the strongest new release of the bunch was 50/50, which underperformed with an $8.85 million opening. The cancer-themed comedy/drama is a tough sell, but the movie's A- CinemaScore could translate to positive word-of-mouth. Reluctant audiences may be persuaded by friends that seeing a movie about a deadly disease can actually be a touching, uplifting experience.

The fatih-based drama Courageous overperformed with $8.8 million. THR critic Frank Scheck praised the "growing expertise" of Alex and Stephen Kendrick, who together contribute to the directing, writing, Courageous cops acting, and producing credits. "These enterprising Baptist filmmakers clearly know their audience," he observed after seeing the movie in a theatre packed with faithful moviegoers. Sherwood Pictures (Fireproof, Facing the Giants) has been growing in profile with a number of successes aimed at underserved audiences. 2008's Fireproof grossed five times its opening weekend. A similar multiple could bring Courageous' cumulative total above $40 million.

If most horror movies are seen by teen girls, why would they see middle-aged Daniel Craig and Rachel Weisz fear for their lives in Dream House? The ambitious film, budgeted at $50 million, finished with $8.2 million. For a horror movie, that's a particularly bad opening. Its 7% positive approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes, which confirms this movie is not The Shining, may have had something to do with it.

Whats your number men 2 Anna Faris is a lovely star, but she must be disappointed after What's Your Number? debuted to a paltry $5.6 million. The movie seemed like a pretty typical romantic comedy, which audiences have been shunning in recent years. Perhaps the star can strut out her comedy skills to a broader audience when she appears opposite Sacha Baron Cohen in The Dictator next year.

Take Shelter boasted an $18,700 per-screen average at three locations. The Michael Shannon/Jessica Chastain movie could results in an Oscar nomination for Shannon. Years of delay didn't help Margaret, the post-9/11 pensive drama starring Anna Paquin. The movie's $3,700 per-screen average does not bode well for Fox Searchlight's planned expansion.

This Friday, the George Clooney/Ryan Gosling political ensemble drama The Ides of March will go up against the father-son-robot bonding movie Real Steel.

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