Weekend Box Office: Lion King Still Has Bite, Moneyball & Dolphin Tale Fight for Runner-Up

By Chris Kavan - 09/25/11 at 11:50 PM CT

It was in with the old once again this weekend as a record-breaking September weekend ($116 million total) was boosted by two family films.

Taking the top spot for the second weekend in a row, The Lion King added an extra $22.1 million to its total. In two weekends it has brought in nearly $62 million and boosted its total to $390.2 million (12th on the all-time movie list). Should Disney decide to keep it in theaters past its two-week slated run, it should easily break into the top 10 movies of all time.

Not surprisingly, The Lion King also had best hold-over from last weekend, dropping just under 27%. Meanwhile, it was a neck-and-neck race for second place.

Currently, Brad Pitt's Moneyball has a slight advantage over Dolphin Tale. With a $20.6 million opening, Moneyball can claim the title of highest-grossing baseball film and 5th best amongst all sports dramas. While it was on the lighter end for Brad Pitt, it was up slightly compared to Burn After Reading ($19.1 million) and just under The Social Network ($22.45 million). The audience was pretty evenly split between male and female, but did skew slightly older.

Despite heavy family competition from The Lion King, the inspirational Dolphin Tale did pretty well on its own. Currently in third, but just so, the film took in $20.2 million, but could swap with Moneyball once final figures are released. If its numbers hold, it will be the best debut for a live-action animal film (topping Eight Below's $20.19 million). It also easily topped Soul Surfer's $10.6 million from earlier in the year and earned a rare A+ rating from a mostly younger, female audience. It took in about 50% of its grosses from 3D showings.

The other two new wide releases didn't fare as well, though they manage to beat all of last week's releases. Taylor Lautner might have brought in female audiences in droves (68% of its attendees were women) - rare for an action-oriented film, but it only took in $11.2 million. Good enough for 4th-place, but it couldn't even top Robert Pattinson's Water for Elephants $16.8 million opening.

Killer Elite may have boasted an all-star action cast, but Jason Statham, playing pretty much the same role he's been playing since he's been on the scene, could only bring in $9.5 million. It was lower than The Mechanic ($11.4 million) and Death Race ($12.6 million) in terms of opening.

Contagion continued to hold up reasonably well, dropping just 41% to take sixth place with $8.5 million and raiding its total to $57.1 million. Holding up even better was The Help, which, aside from The Lion King, had the best week-to-week holdover, dropping just 32%. The film took in another $4.4 million - 8th place - and increased its total to $154.4 million.

Last weeks under-performing films nose-dived, with Straw Dogs taking the biggest hit with a 59% audience drop. It clung to 9th place with $2.1 million and a $8.88 million total. I Don't Know How She Does It wasn't far behind, dropping 53% for a 10th-place $2.05 million take and just over $8 million in total grosses.

We'll see if Disney keeps The Lion King around for another week. If so, it will go up against the cancer comedy (oxymoron?) 50/50, the Daniel Craig horror film Dream House and romantic comedy What's Your Number?.

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