You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

‘Lion’ reigns at weekend B.O.

Disney's 3D re-release bests newcomers with $22.1 mil

Weekend domestic B.O. came down to the wire among the top three titles, as Disney’s remarkable 3D re-release of “The Lion King” won its second straight week with $22.1 million, while “The Smurfs” reigned again at the international B.O. with $12.9 million, pushing the pic’s worldwide cume past the $500 million mark.

The three $20 million-plus titles in the U.S. put the weekend 18% ahead of the same weekend last year.

Sony estimated a weekend debut of $20.6 million for Brad Pitt starrer “Moneyball,” putting it only slightly ahead of Warner Bros.’ “Dolphin Tale” with $20.3 million.

Appealing to adult auds, “Moneyball” started the weekend with a slight edge on Friday, putting the three top players in a tight race.

Once it entered prime family film

playing time, “The Lion King” saw a weekend surge, with a minimal soph-sesh drop of 27%, while “Dolphin Tale” played admirably, considering the former pic’s top-notch staying power. “Dolphin Tale” had the weekend’s best Friday-Saturday bump, up 70%.

Among the weekend’s remaining wide releases, Lionsgate saw an OK $11.2 million gross for Taylor Lautner actioner “Abduction,” boosted primarily by under-18 femmes. Meanwhile, Open Road Films’ inaugural release, “Killer Elite,” came in softer than expected, with an estimated $9.5 million. That’s not a terrible kickoff for the newbie distrib, though most bizzers, including those at Open Road, expected the film to hit double digits.

In limited release, Sundance Selects’ gay-themed festival darling “Weekend” sold out screenings in New York, where the pic grossed an estimated $25,200 at one location for the weekend’s best per screen. Also, Relativity Media’s “Machine Gun Preacher” scored $11,000 at four playdates before expanding to 15 markets next weekend, while Millennium Films’ “Puncture,” starring Chris Evans, did less per-screen (almost $9,000) from the same number of locations.

Rory Bruer, prexy of worldwide distribution at Sony, said “Moneyball” played mostly to over-25 auds (64%), but added that the film likely will broaden to younger moviegoers in the coming weeks.

“A film like ‘Moneyball’ during opening weekend attracts mostly an older audience,” Bruer said. “So there’s not that call to action like there is with films that attract younger audiences.”

“Dolphin Tale,” which scored a rare A+ CinemaScore rating, was hurt some by having to compete with “The Lion King” in the family market.

“I don’t know if we would have gotten half of what ‘Lion King’ did had it not been in the market, but we would have at least gotten a third, which would have pushed us over the top,” said Warner distrib prexy of domestic distribution Dan Fellman, adding that “Dolphin Tale” could wind up higher than “Moneyball” when final figures come in today.

“It’s a virtual tie for us,” Fellman said.

3D family upswing?

“The Lion King” debuted last weekend with a splendid (and surprising) 91% 3D share, which rose in its second outing to 93%, according to Disney.

Though the Mouse encouraged exhibs to screen the toon mostly in 3D — with no more than two 2D screenings per day, in fact — the film’s overwhelming 3D share is still remarkable considering how the format has played with families of late. “The Lion King” also appealled to a sizeable adult crowd and was marketed as a 3D event, however.

The success of “The Lion King” in 3D helped raise the bar for “Dolphin Tale,” whose 50% 3D share landed at the high end of 3D openings for similar family pics. “Dolphin Tale,” which was fully financed by Alcon Entertainment for a total $37 million after tax rebates, had 77% of its total locations in 3D. “We’re hoping that the film crosses over into mainstream moviegoing,” said Alcon co-founder and co-CEO Broderick Johnson.

By comparison, Disney estimates that approximately 80% of “The Lion King’s” showtimes were in 3D.

But the format did work better for “The Lion King” (and subsequently “Dolphin Tale”) than even the most optimistic B.O. pundits predicted it would. “The Lion King’s” $78 million worldwide cume certainly has made the effort of 3D conversion worthwhile, as well likely spurring more 3D retrofits.

“Any weekend when you have a 26% drop, you’ll be walking away happy,” said Disney exec VP of motion picture distribution Dave Hollis. “But for it to happen this weekend, with a re-issue competing against another family film, is astounding.”

While “The Lion King” attracted plenty of families this weekend, the toon reboot continued to play well with over-25 auds; look to the pic’s stellar mid-week perfs.

This time of year is especially robust for adult moviegoers — a fact Sony hoped to capitalize on, using the same release strategy for “Moneyball” as it did with “The Social Network.” That pic opened to $22 million and cumed almost $97 million domestically, with a B+ CinemaScore vs. “Moneyball’s” overall A rating.

Positive reviews and word-of-mouth will help “Moneyball” leg out domestically. But the film could face a tougher road overseas as sports pics, particularly baseball, generally don’t travel well — except in Japan and South Korea, where baseball is popular.

Sony’s Bruer said Pitt, along with the film’s more universal story elements, should help win over international filmgoers.

“It’s a movie about the underdog — and that resonates everywhere,” Bruer said.

“Moneyball” played relatively even between the genders, with Pitt’s femme appeal balancing out the male sports aud.

About 65% of the “Abduction” aud was both female and under 25. Those auds gave “Abduction” a B- Cinemascore rating, while Rotten Tomatoes top critics gave the Lautner pic a unaminous zero. “Killer Elite,” which skewed overwhelmingly (75%) toward over-25 auds, scored a B CinemaScore rating.

Overseas V.I.P.’s

Sony’s comedy holdover “Friends With Benefits” had another nice weekend internationally, with $9.7 million for an overseas cume of $55.6 million. “Friends” came in second to “Smurfs,” while Universal’s “Johnny English Reborn” ranked No. 3 with $7.4 million in its third frame, cuming $23.6 million.

“Abduction” debuted day-and-date in Australia and some Latin American territories for a reported $2.9 million, according to Rentrak.

In Oz, the Lautner thriller grossed a fine $1.3 million, and will benefit from local school holidays boosting midweeks. Meanwhile, the film ranked first in Brazil, ahead of a pair of 3D pics “Final Destination 5” and “Conan the Barbarian.”

Popular on Variety

More Film

  • Zombieland Double Tap

    Why Emma Stone Was Haunted by Fear of Vomiting While Shooting 'Zombieland: Double Tap'

    SPOILER ALERT: The following story contains a slight spoiler for “Zombieland: Double Tap.” The zombie slayers are back! Ten years after Emma Stone, Woody Harrelson, Jesse Eisenberg and Abigail Breslin first killed dead people walking in “Zombieland,” they’ve reunited for “Zombieland: Double Tap.” “You take stock of your life a little bit,” Stone says of [...]

  • Hereditary

    The Best Horror Films to Stream Right Now

    Good horror movies aren’t always easy to scare up, but with Halloween on the horizon, Variety has compiled a list of some of the best horror films available on Netflix, Amazon Prime and Hulu. NETFLIX Apostle Cult horror meets religious hypocrisy in this creepy gothic thriller, which follows prodigal son Thomas Richardson, who returns home [...]

  • Brett Gelman

    'Stranger Things' Star Brett Gelman Joins Michael B. Jordan in 'Without Remorse'

    Brett Gelman, best known for his scene-stealing roles in “Fleabag,” “Stranger Things” and “Love,” has joined Michael B. Jordan in Paramount’s adaptation of Tom Clancy’s “Without Remorse.” Jamie Bell and Jodie Turner-Smith are also on board. Jordan is starring as operations officer John Clark, also known as John Terrence Kelly, a former Navy SEAL who [...]

  • US director Francis Ford Coppola holds

    Francis Ford Coppola Honored With Prestigious Lumiere Prize by Thierry Fremaux, Bong Joon Ho

    Francis Ford Coppola took the stage to claim the Lumière Festival’s lifetime achievement honor, the Lumière Prize, in a stirring celebration that marked the festival’s 10th edition on Friday night in Lyon, France. The four-time Academy Award winner accepted the prize after a series of video tributes, musical performances and testimonials from family, friends and [...]

  • 'Human Capital' Sells to Vertical Entertainment,

    Liev Schreiber, Maya Hawke's 'Human Capital' Sells Rights to DirecTV, Vertical Entertainment (EXCLUSIVE)

    Vertical Entertainment and DirecTV have jointly acquired the North American distribution rights to “Human Capital,” an official selection of this year’s Toronto International Film Festival from director Marc Meyers. The film stars Oscar winner Marisa Tomei, Liev Schreiber, Peter Sarsgaard, and Maya Hawke. The ensemble drama follows numerous interconnected stories surrounding a hit and run, [...]

  • Robert Zemeckis

    Robert Zemeckis in Talks to Direct Live-Action 'Pinocchio' for Disney (EXCLUSIVE)

    Robert Zemeckis is in early talks to direct Disney’s live-action “Pinocchio.” Andrew Miano and Chris Weitz will produce through their company Depth of Field with Weitz penning the script. “Paddington” director Paul King had originally been tapped to direct but had to leave the project for unknown reasons at the beginning of the year. David [...]

  • Taron Egerton Elton John Rocketman Live

    Elton John and Taron Egerton Duet at 'Rocketman' Awards Season Event at the Greek Theatre

    “Rocketman” has officially launched into awards season. Paramount hosted a screening of the film with a live-performance of the score by the Hollywood Symphony Orchestra and a headlining performance by Elton John and the film’s star Taron Egerton. John and Egerton — who is in contention for best actor for his portrayal of the singer [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content