Weekend Box Office Wrap Up: September 25th, 2011

Disney's Lion King stays at the top of the box office

 The Lion King topped the box office for a second weekend – beating out the likes of Brad Pitt and Taylor Lautner for the privilege. The 3D re-release of the classic Disney ‘toon banked another $22.1 million and upped its gross to over $61.6 million.

Not bad for a film that was first released seventeen years ago.

Brad Pitt used his star power to open Moneyball to $20.6 million. The baseball drama’s launch was the highest opening (non-adjusted) for a baseball themed film, and about average for a Pitt starrer. The well reviewed Moneyball (read our review here) which co-stars Jonah Hill, was written by heavy-hitters Aaron Sorkin and Steven Zaillian. It went through a troubled production, with director Steven Soderbergh being dropped from the film and replaced by Bennett Miller. Soderbergh wanted to shoot the film in a more experimental way, while Sony wanted a traditional movie for their $50 million – a figure that the studio should recoup on the domestic market, however it will be a tough sell on the international scene.

Brad Pitt's Moneyball Opens 2nd Behind Lion King

The terrible looking Dolphin Tale (that’s just my personal taste) debuted at three with an impressive $20.2 million. The tale about Dolphin’s tail reunites Morgan Freeman and Ashley Judd, with Harry Connick Jr. and Kris Kristofferson tagging along for the ride. The uplifting true story has scored well with family audiences and may swim to an impressive total haul.

Tween heartthrob Taylor Lautner flexed his movie star muscles with the launch of Abduction (read our review). The Twilight star abducted about $11.2 million from audiences,  showing some bankability behind Simba, Brad Pitt and a tail-less Dolphin. While it’s not a great start, it should cover its $35 million budget, but Lionsgate pulled out all the stops in marketing the movie, so it’ll have to score some serious cash if it wants to be hugely profitable. Next week will be the real test to see if Lautner has the goods to have a decent hold, or if he is just a cinematic flash in the pan. The Twilight Saga: Eclipse had a $64.8 million debut, so it must be noted that not that many Twi-hards came out for this Lautner solo effort.

Taylor Lautner's Abduction debuts at Four

The unlikely combo of Robert DeNiro, Clive Owen and Jason Statham couldn’t stop Taylor Lautner from besting them, despite their combined star power. The Action flick Killer Elite (read our review) debuted to only $9.5 million – not too good considering its reported $70 million budget. The film is about average for a Statham action pic, but DeNiro and Owen should have brought a few (dare I say it) high-brow bums to multiplexes. The cast however, should help it score extra green on the foreign market. Killer Elite is another odd-ball choice for DeNiro, who appears to choose roles with no rhyme or reason - well, to be fair, the reason is probably cash.

Contagion dropped to fifth place after grossing another $8.5 million. The all-star Steven Soderbergh film has now grossed over $57 million. The $60 million film will top the total gross of  Warner Bros. last all-star virus movie Outbreak. That film grossed $67 million, but that was in 1995 when ticket prices were much lower.

The Euro-flavored Drive saw its cumulative gross cruise to over $21.4 million. The Ryan Gosling thriller grossed another $5.7 million over the weekend, while it won’t go full-throttle and become a break-out hit, it should turn a decent profit and become a cult favorite.

The Help cleaned up another $4.4 million and brought its total over $154 million, while last weekend’s flops Straw Dogs and I Don’t Know How She Does It both failed to improve on their weak starts. The pair should see the weekend out with about $2 million apiece, giving them $8.8 million and $8 million respectively. Not great numbers when you consider that they each cost about $25 million to produce.

That's it for now. See you at the movies.

Source: Box Office Mojo

That’s it for now. See you at the movies.

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