‘Lion King’ Makes it Two in a Row!

A lion and four brand new releases do battle during an incredibly strong September weekend with three films earning over $20 million and over $122 million generated in the marketplace.

Disney’s The Lion King remains at the top of the food chain in the wake of a surprise $30 million opening last weekend with a solid $22.1 million gross against a minimal 27% drop. Huge mid-week grosses portend a minimal percentage drop and the 3-D revenue boost gave this king of the box office jungle a solid second weekend showing and a total of $61.7 million by Sunday night.

Two of the newcomers gave the Lion a run for his money with a solid $20.6 million debut from Sony/Columbia’s much buzzed about Moneyball starring Brad Pitt in the true story of Oakland A’s manager Billy Beane. Also starring Jonah Hill and Philip Seymour Hoffman the film has been generating tremendous buzz among critics and is likely to go into extra-innings with audiences in the coming weeks as positive word-of-mouth builds for the film.

Making a similar weekend splash with $20.26 million is Warner Bros.’ heartwarming Dolphin Tale in 3-D starring Harry Connick Jr., Ashley Judd and Morgan Freeman. The PG-rated film benefited from renewed interest in post summer movie-going by the family audience in light of last week’s roaring performance by The Lion King. A rare and impressive Cinemascore of A+ means this Dolphin will have a fin up with audiences in the coming weeks.

Nabbing a gross of $11.2 million is Lionsgate’s Abduction. Featuring Twilight star and teen heartthrob Taylor Lautner and Directed by Boyz N the Hood’s John Singleton, this PG-13 thriller tells the tale of a young man looking to uncover the truth about his past. The film earned a Cinemascore of A- with females under 18 and posted solid international numbers in Latin America.

The fifth spot with $9.5 million went to Open Road’s Killer Elite starring Jason Statham, Clive Owen and Robert DeNiro. The R-rated action drama is based on a true story in which a special ops agent is pitted against his former mentor.

Year-to-date revenues are now at $7.85 billion vs. last year’s $8.14 billion through this weekend as we continue to chip away at the deficit which has dropped 3.5%.

Weekend Box Office
Top Movies for Weekend of September 23, 2011 (estimates)

1.  The Lion King (G) $22.1M $61.7M 
2.  Moneyball (PG13) $20.6M $20.6M 
3.  Dolphin Tale (PG) $20.3M $20.3M 
4.  Abduction (PG13) $11.2M $11.2M 

5.  Killer Elite (R)       $9.5M  $9.5M