New Releases Shelved As Holdovers Dominate
By John Hamann
October 2, 2011
We have certainly seen some odd things at the box office over the last few weeks. First it was The Help, finishing second in weekend one, and then taking the crown for two consecutive weekends. Then, following a one weekend win for Contagion, The Lion King 3D crawled out of 1994 and won two consecutive weekends. Now, Moneyball has won two consecutive Fridays, but has yet to win a weekend. Completing the weird story is Dolphin Tale floating to the top this weekend, despite four new releases opening at 9,282 venues.
Our number one film of the weekend is Dolphin Tale, last weekend's number three film behind The Lion King and Moneyball. Last weekend, the difference between the number one film and number three was $2.8 million, and things aren't that much different this weekend. Dolphin Tale placed second after Friday grosses were counted, but rose on the strength of kids and families attending over Saturday and Sunday, taking the weekend with a gross of $14.2 million. That gives Dolphin Tale a decent drop of 26%, but would likely have held better had The Lion King not been around stealing the family audience, and possibly Courageous, stealing some of that faith-based business.
Dolphin Tale wins the weekend due to its strong internal weekend multiplier (weekend gross divided by Friday gross). It finished about $400,000 behind Moneyball on Friday, and less than $200,000 ahead of The Lion King. Because of Moneyball's more adult audience and The Lion King playing on adult nostalgia, Dolphin Tale carried the highest internal multiplier of films in play this weekend at 4.1, as it carried the right audience, has excellent word of mouth (A+ Cinemascore), and excellent reviews (83% fresh at RottenTomatoes). Alcon Entertainment partnered with Warner Bros. on this one, and the result isn't completely different from The Blind Side, another family driven film from the same partnership. Dolphin Tale now has a total of $37.5 million, against a budget of only $37 million. It may be hard to believe, but a $70 million (or more) domestic total for this one is likely.
Moneyball is second, the same spot it finished in last weekend - at least until actuals are reported on Monday. The Brad Pitt/Jonah Hill Oscar bait movie earned $12.5 million this weekend, and was off a decent but not spectacular, 36%. All four of the new releases could have pulled at Moneyball's audience (had they earned anything), but the result for the $50 million film should be lauded. Baseball movies have never been an easy sell, as only one has earned more than $100 million, League of Their Own, which took in $107 million in 1992. This one should finish in the top three, somewhere between 1989's Field of Dreams ($64.4 million) and 2002's The Rookie ($75.6 million), unless something pretty special happens. Moneyball has earned $38.5 million so far.
That means The Lion King 3D is third this weekend, as attendance slips a bit with news of the Blu-ray release reaching a wider audience. Now in its third weekend, The Lion King 3D earned another $11.1 million but sees a bigger drop this weekend (49%) despite no new competition. Last weekend, The Lion King fell only 27%. The Disney re-re-release didn't lose any screens this weekend. It just seems to be losing an audience interested in reliving the early '90s. Regardless, the 3D version of the classic has done very well for Disney, as it's taken in $79.7 million. Additionally, the overall total for the film – dollars earned since its release – crossed the $400 million mark this weekend.