But 'Lion King 3D,' champ for 2 weeks, could win again

Bizzers expect domestic box office to be a rehash of last weekend — but with a lower bar.

Disney’s two-week 3D champ “The Lion King” vies for Stateside bragging rights, again facing two key new entries, Summit’s “50/50″ and Universal’s “Dream House.” A third wide release, 20th Century Fox’s “What’s Your Number?,” may not even reach a double-digit opening.

But soph-sesh holdovers “Moneyball” and “Dolphin Tale” also are in the running, depending on how well the pair holds.

The weekend’s top-tracking films won’t score anywhere near $20 million; instead, B.O. pundits say it’s much more likely that those pics will range between $12 million and $14 million for the weekend.

Overseas B.O. may have a familiar feel as well.

“The Smurfs,” which crossed $500 million in worldwide grosses last weekend, could continue its international power play, since few day-and-date releases seem broad enough to win overall. “Abduction” debuted last weekend with $6.5 million from 28 markets and expands in its soph sesh to markets like France, Mexico and the U.K.

As another notable overseas entry, Fox Intl.’s Indian pic “Force,” bows in eight territories mostly in the Middle East, as well as Australia and Blighty. Fox Intl. and Fox Searchlight are co-handling the pic’s domestic debut, set to launch today at 58 locations.

Sony’s faith-based pic “Courageous” could prove interesting domestically. “Courageous,” which launches at an aggressive 1,161 locations, scored Wednesday’s highest share of advanced ticket sales at 22%, and has already collected $2 million in pre-sales. The studio is expecting the film, budgeted for around $2 million, will land in the $5 million-$6 million range through Sunday.

“The Lion King,” along with Sony’s “Moneyball” and Warner Bros.’ “Dolphin Tale,” are expected to hold well, given heated aud interest. Last weekend, “Moneyball” bowed to $19.5 million, followed closely by “Dolphin Tale” with $19.2 million.

A 30% drop this weekend wouldn’t be out of the question for “The Lion King” — pic, after all, dropped just 27% in its second outing — while “Moneyball” could see a similar soph-sesh drop as “The Social Network,” which fell 31%, putting “Moneyball” at around $13 million for the weekend.

Though Disney originally promoted “The Lion King” as a two-week only engagement, the Mouse actually increased the pic’s number of domestic playdates, up 10 for a total 2,340.

Between “50/50″ and “Dream House,” the former could have a slight edge, considering it appeals to a broader demo (“Dream House,” from Morgan Creek, appeals best to femmes). “50/50,” which cost $8 million, should draw fans of stars Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Seth Rogen, with a potentially sizeable Friday-Saturday pop based on strong reviews and word-of-mouth. “Dream House” will attract thriller fans but faces a higher target on its road to profitability, with an estimated budget in the low-$50 millions.

Fox’s “What’s Your Number?”, starring Anna Faris and Chris Evans, has limited interest, the strongest demo being over-25 women.

In limited release, Sony Pictures Classics’ psychological drama “Take Shelter” bows at three locations in New York and L.A., while Fox Searchlight’s long-delayed “Margaret,” from helmer Kenneth Lonergan, opens at two.

Relativity Media’s “Machine Gun Preacher” expands to 33 playdates; Sundance Selects’ gay-themed drama “Weekend” broadens to six.

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