Friday Report: 'Moneyball' Wins Game One, 'Lion' Poised to Take Weekend Series

by Ray Subers

September 24, 2011

Moneyball's formula resulted in a solid win on Friday, but reigning champion The Lion King (in 3D) wasn't far behind and should easily repeat in first place this weekend. Dolphin Tale also got off to a strong start, while Abduction and Killer Elite failed to break out of their niches.

Brad Pitt baseball drama Moneyball scored an estimated $6.75 million yesterday. That's off from The Social Network ($8 million) and Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps ($6.9 million), and also much lower than the overwhelming majority of Pitt's recent movies. Still, it came in slightly ahead of 2008's Burn After Reading ($6.4 million), and was about even with 2006 baseball comedy The Benchwarmers ($6.8 million). That movie currently holds the opening weekend record for a baseball flick with $19.66 million, and Moneyball should end up with a similar number.

The Lion King was off just 32 percent to an estimated $6.05 million, bringing its eight-day total to $45.6 million. Considering the big boost family movies get on Saturday and Sunday, The Lion King will move in to first today and win the weekend with around $24 million.

Even with The Lion King's ongoing success, Dolphin Tale still managed to find a substantial audience. The 3D drama debuted to a stronger-than-expected $5.11 million, which is much higher than Soul Surfer ($3.6 million), Secretariat ($4 million) and Hotel for Dogs ($4.3 million), though it was less than half of The Blind Side's $11 million. Historical comparisons point to a weekend gross of around $19 million, and it could even take second place away from Moneyball.

Abduction snagged an estimated $3.8 million on Friday, which is just over one-third of Eagle Eye's start at the same time three years ago. The movie could get up to $11 million for the three-day frame, though Taylor Lautner's presence could translate in to a more frontloaded weekend.

Killer Elite wound up in fifth place with an estimated $3.5 million, which is a pretty average start for a Jason Statham movie. It's off from Death Race ($4.6 million) and a tad lower than January's The Mechanic ($3.6 million), but it's about identical to WAR ($3.5 million). It should wind up with about $10 million for the weekend, and might even move ahead of Abduction.

Contagion fell 44 percent to an estimated $2.63 million, and its 15-day total reached $51.2 million. Last weekend's new movies didn't fare too well in their second frame. Drive yielded 53 percent for an estimated $1.88 million, Straw Dogs plummeted 65 percent to $685,000, and I Don't Know How She Does It declined 57 percent to $677,000.

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Related Story:
Forecast: Odds Favor 'Moneyball'

Related Chart:
Grosses for Friday, September 23, 2011

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