Box Office: Dolphin Tale Whips Newcomers Out of the Top Spot

Animals, baseball, and animals, these latter being of the animated variety. Evidently that’s what it takes to keep four new movies from even breaking into the top 3 at the weekend box office. It was evidenced this weekend when none of the new hitters, granted none of them marquee titles that were looking to do $20m or better but new movies nonetheless, were able to take down three returning moneymakers. And one of those returners, Dolphin Tale, found its way into the #1 spot after a week of coming up behind The Lion King and Moneyball.

Dolphin Tale‘s drop from its impressive $19.1m first weekend was minute enough to have a solid second weekend, and while new movies like What’s Your Number? and Dream House were struggling to keep their head above the box office waters, that little dolphin movie was doing backflips. Of course, the live action animal move sub-genre might not see an influx from what we’re seeing here from Dolphin Tale. The film, which seems relatively small by comparison of other live action animal movies – we’re looking at you, Mr. Popper’s Penguins – still ended up costing a reported $37m. That, by no standards, is a huge sum, especially when it comes to movie making. But the road to making a profit still seems long for this particular film, and while it’s weekend takes aren’t dropping by any means, the natural dwindling effect is still in order.

Three of the four new movies were neck-and-neck over the weekend. 50/50, Courageous, and Dream House were all in the $8-9m range with the first two coming in less than $100,000 from one another. When Monday’s final numbers come in, the 4-6 slots on the charts could be shaken around a bit, but not too drastically. 50/50 and Dream House might be feeling the hit from coming in under $10m, but an $8.8m opening is incredibly solid for Courageous, which opened on less than 1200 screens. The Christian-funded movie had a bigger opening than 2008’s Fireproof, Alex Kendrick’s previous film, but there’s no telling how much more this new film cost. Fireproof opened to $6.8m in 839 theaters, and with a budget of $500,000, it made some serious headlines. The coming weeks will tell if Courageous has the same numbers of religious moviegoers going to it.

I’m sure all those religious moviegoers were happy to see What’s Your Number? tank this weekend. Hell, movie critics were happy to see What’s Your Number? tanking this weekend. But not only did it tank, its opening was downright drastic considering it hit more than 3000 theaters. That comes out to a $1865 per theater average, pretty abysmal for a new release. By comparison, Courageous‘ per theater average was $7580 proving that Jesus is stronger than Anna Faris. Hey, don’t look at me. The numbers don’t lie.

Here’s how the weekend broke down:

  1. Dolphin Tale – $14.2m (-25.6%) $37.5m total
  2. Moneyball – $12.5m (-35.9%) $38.4m total
  3. The Lion King (in 3D) – $11m (-49.6%) $79.6m total
  4. 50/50 – $8.8m NEW
  5. Courageous – $8.8m NEW
  6. Dream House – $8.2m NEW
  7. Abduction – $5.6m (-48.3%) $19.1m total
  8. What’s Your Number? – $5.6m NEW
  9. Contagion – $5m (-40.4%) $64.7m total
  10. Killer Elite – $4.8m (-48.1%) $17.4m total

Which comes to $84.5m, another less than spectacular weekend for total box office. The numbers haven’t been atrocious, particularly considering the transitional month we’re still in. With October’s slate on the horizon, we’ll be seeing bigger and more prolonged numbers, and we might even get back up into a weekly $100m run.

Next weekend looks to do just that with the George Clooney-directed The Ides of March and Real Steel casting a pretty wide net over the country. With giant robots and Hugh Jackman in the mix, Real Steel looks like it may have been more suited for the Summer season, but DreamWorks and Touchstone have other plans. Regardless, with the force and budget behind it, Real Steel looks to be a reel steal. Ok, that was uncalled for. Hugh Jackman expects better.

We’ll be back on Thursday to see how the weekend is shaping up.

Jeremy's been writing about movies for a good, 15 years, starting with the film review column of his high school newspaper. He stands proud as the first person in his high school to have seen (and recommend) Pulp Fiction. Jeremy went on to get a B.A. in Cinema and Photography with a minor in journalism. His experience and knowledge of film is aided by the list of 6600 films he has seen in his life (so far). Jeremy's belief is that there are no bad films, just unrealized possibilities. Except Batman and Robin. That shit was awful.

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