The Reject ReportHopefully it’s not a swing and a miss for Brad Pitt and Columbia Pictures this weekend. Oh, man. Sometimes these puns just write themselves. It’s another addition of the Reject Report, and once again we have four big hitters – there I go again – vying for the top spot. A baseball drama, a Jason Statham actioner, a movie about a cute, little dolphin, and Taylor Lautner. Guess which one of these I’ll be spending the least amount of space on. Hint. It ain’t the dolphin movie. So kick back, throw on your favorite catcher’s mitt, and enjoy your weekly box office analysis. I promise we won’t initiate the in-field fly rule this week. Yeah, that one doesn’t even make any sense.

BIG HITTERS

Looking at the history of baseball movies, you won’t find many huge debuts. The biggest opening we’ve had for a baseball movie was in 2006 when The Benchwarmers brought in $19.6m in its first three days. But we’re not even dignifying that by saying it counts. Instead, the real big opening for a baseball movie was in 2002 when The Rookie made $16m it’s opening weekend. This rule, and, yes, the one set by the movie starring David Spade, looks to be in question. Brad Pitt does have a history of opening his films well. Even when they’re not franchise movies or movies featuring huge, ensemble casts, he has a habit of turning a nice chunk of change in that opening weekend. Moneyball won’t have the same break as something like the $46.8 Troy made or even the $36.1m something like Ocean’s Thirteen made its opening weekend. Still, looking at numbers for films like The Curious Case of Benjamin Button ($26.8m opening weekend) or Burn After Reading ($19.1m opening weekend) gives us a good indication that Moneyball could be that baseball movie that finally breaks $20m its first weekend. You also have the Jonah Hill factor to weight into it. We’ll give it an extra $100,000 to give it the edge over Lion King 3D, and hopefully by now you’ve forgotten The Benchwarmers ever even existed. Glad I brought it up again.

Oh, Brad Pitt. Oh, Achilles. Oh, Troy. Remember this amazing fight scene from that movie? Well, here it is again.

According to the trailer for Killer Elite, Jason Statham rocks you like a hurricane. Or maybe it’s Clive Owen who rocks with a force that would shatter the Beaufort scale. Can’t be Robert DeNiro, right? Either way you slice it, audiences are gonna get rocked this weekend. They’ll also be seeing an action movie starring these three powerhouse actors. But how will it fare? Judging by Statham’s track record, it could be decent, somewhere in the low to mid double digits, or it could slink into the land of Crank: High Voltage or The Bank Job. Sylvester Stallone isn’t in Killer Elite and neither are a dozen other stars from the ’80s, so you know this movie isn’t going to rock anywhere close to the $34.8m The Expendables brought in opening weekend. Instead, we’ll be expecting somewhere closer to The Transporter movies or even Death Race. Owen won’t be much of a factor. Sadly neither will DeNiro. This is all Statham all the time, and no one on this side of the keyboard is complaining.

Because you asked for it – maybe you didn’t. I really don’t care – here’s the music video for that amazing (?) Scorpions song. If you don’t mind, I’m gonna rock out for a bit before I start talking about dolphins and abs.

Live action animals movies are about as bomb-dropping as baseball movies. Only one has debuted over $20m, and that was Eight Below. Thanks, Paul Walker. With Dolphin Tale, don’t expect that trend to change. I mean I know Harry Connick Jr. and Ashley Judd are some massive draws in 2011. Their last movie together, Bug, made a whole $8m worldwide, and that was a live action family drama about animals, wasn’t it? Either way Dolphin Tale will drop in somewhere just over $10m, somewhere down there with Because of Winn-Dixie. Oh, the power of Jeff Daniels.

Abs are a good money draw, aren’t they? I mean why else cast Taylor Lautner as the lead of a Bourne Identity-esque actioner/adventure directed by John Singleton. Okay, that John Singleton part was just a jab at how low the Boyz N the Hood director has dropped. Abduction will do okay, because, as stated previously, abs are a good money draw. The name of the movie has “AB” right there in the title. That alone scores it $12m.

LITTLE OPENERS

Opening in limited release are A Bird of the Air opening in New York City, Incendiary opening in select cities,  Machine Gun Preacher opening in New York and L.A., The Man Nobody Knew: In Search of My Father, CIA Spymaster William Colby opening in New York City, Puncture opening in  New York, L.A., and Houston, Red State playing Sunday night only in select cities, Thunder Soul opening in select cities, Weekend opening in New York City, and The Whale opening in New York City.

Here’s how the weekend is shaping up:

  1. Moneyball – $20.1m NEW
  2. The Lion King (in 3D) – $20m (-33.5%)
  3. Abduction – $12.6m NEW
  4. Killer Elite – $11.4m NEW
  5. Dolphin Tale -$10.6m NEW
  6. Contagion – $9.1m (-36.6%)
  7. Drive – $6.4m (-42.8%)
  8. The Help – $4.5m (-30%)
  9. Straw Dogs – $2.2m (-56.2%)
  10. I Don’t Know How She Does It -$2.2m (-49.9%)

And thanks to baseball and the power of the Pitt, we’re back up near the $100m range. We’re looking at $99.1m for the top 10, a decided upswing from previous weekends. Of course, these numbers could fall way short of analytics. Everyone could just decide they had their fill of The Lion King last weekend and have that movie drop drastically. Everyone could take it upon themselves to keep Taylor Lautner from being a huge star. Oh, if only that could become a reality. The world could declare war on dolphins between now and Saturday night. Who knows? It’s a crap-shoot, but we’ll check back in on Sunday to see how everything held up. I’ll still be holding out hope on that Lautner backlash.

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