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Weekend Box Office: 17-Year Old Lion King Mauls Competition

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By Chris Kavan - 09/18/11 at 11:40 PM CT

It's not like Disney needs even more money to their name, but it looks like they've stumbled onto a lucrative new strategy.

Despite having last graced theaters 17 years ago, the re-release of The Lion King in 3D made more than all three new films combined. With a $29.3 million total, The Lion King the first re-release to claim the top spot since 1997 when Return of the Jedi managed the same feat. It was the 5th-highest grossing September film, and the extra money propelled it from the 25th-highest grossing domestic film to the 17th.

It just goes to show that when you have a great film, people are more than willing to give it another shot - especially when the film spans generations of viewers. Circle of life indeed.

Dropping just 35%, Contagion took the second-place spot with $14.5 million. The film guaranteed to make everyone germaphobic has made $44.2 million and should wind up somewhere around the $80 million mark by the time it ends its run.

The new films were led by the violent, art-house film Drive. At just over $11 million, it was a decent debut considering the subject matter, but its big buzz at Cannes didn't translate to audiences. Ryan Gosling also couldn't top The Notebook's opening of $13.5 million.

The Remake Fairy wasn't in a good mood this week, as Rod Lurie's updated Straw Dogs with James Marsden and Kate Bosworth only took in $5 million for a 5th-place debut. As remakes go, it didn't even approach the $14million that The Last House on the Left took in and continued the trend of poorly-received remakes this year (Arthur, Conan, Fright Night and Don't Be Afraid of the Dark). We'll see if Footloose or The Thing can be more like Planet of the Apes or falls into the same trap

Sarah Jessica Parker probably wishes she just stuck with Sex and the City as I Don't Know How She Does It opened in 6th with a whisper at just $4.5 million. It was even lower than Did You Hear About the Morgans?, which opened at $6.6 million in 2009. You can't blame Parker fully, the premise of the movie: a woman struggling with work and life - mirrors the daily life of pretty much every woman - and who wants to watch that? Apparently, not very many people, that's who.

Rounding out the top five, The Help once again had the least drop out of the top 10 films, just a 28% dip, and took in another $6.4 million and now stands at $147.4 million. It will top $150 million in the next few days and depending on how long it can last, will probably be between $175 - $200 million by the time its run ends.

Taking the biggest hit of the week, Warrior bled over 47% and fell to 8th, taking in just $2.8 million for a disappointing $9.9 million total. Feel good can only take you so far - it probably won't get to top its $25 million budget.

Finally, in milestone news, Rise of the Planet of the Apes is still hanging in the top 10. The $2.65 million 9th-place showing helped it top the $170 million mark and the reboot now stands at $171.6 million, nearly doubling its budget..

With Lion King sticking to a supposedly two-week run, we'll see if any films: Taylor Lautner's Abduction, Brad Pitt and Jonah Hill in Moneyball or Gerard Butler's Machine Gun Preacher - can fare better against Disney than this week's crop of films.


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