Box Office: ‘Lion King’ wins wild card weekend over Brad Pitt’s ‘Moneyball’

The ‘circle of life’ continues for Disney’s animated classic.  

Even with the critically acclaimed Brad Pitt baseball pic “Moneyball” and the family flick “Dolphin Tale” entering the marketplace, Disney’s 3-D “The Lion King” remained on top with another $22.1 million.  Dropping only 26.6%, the pinnacle of Disney’s second golden era has found $61.6 million in just 10 days of re-release.  The studio was expected to pull the feature after this week in line with the film’s debut on Blu-ray Tuesday, but it’s hard to imagine they won’t keep it in theaters considering how popular its become with families.  The studio wouldn’t need to give up its allotment of 3D screens until “Real Steel” opens on Oct. 7. If they do stick to their original plan, moviegoers have until Thursday to view it on the big screen.

Still debuting very strong was the Bennett Miller directed “Moneyball.” The Sony Pictures release found $20.6 million over the three-day and should be a solid double or triple for the studio who will have to hope Pitt’s star power can help it in the overseas markets where baseball is not a major sport.

Also having a very good opening was Alcon Entertainment’s “Dolphin Tale” with $20.2 million.  The Warner Bros. release had a huge jump Saturday as families flocked to the 3-D live-action picture.  With a reported budget of $37 million, Alcon will be hoping it continues to generate solid word of mouth over the next few weeks.

Having a less impressive debut was Lionsgate’s “Abduction” starring Taylor Lautner.  The first solo effort for the “Twilight Saga” star grossed only $11.2 million despite an intense publicity campaign by the teen heartthrob.  Still, Lautner can find solace that “Abduction” made a bit more than Robert Pattinson’s first real non-“Twilight” headliner ‘Remember Me” which found just $8 million in March of last year.  Where Lautner’s big screen career goes from here (excluding the last two “Breaking Dawn’s” of course), remains to be seen.

Fifth place went to Open Roads’ first release, “Killer Elite.”  The $9.5 million opening means the Regal and AMC Cinemas start up may break even on their marketing spend for the Jason Statham, Clive Owen and Robert De Niro thriller, but the film’s producers may not find much coin from the U.S.  The jury its still out then on how big the Regal/AMC partnership can open a film strictly in their own theaters.

In limited release, Relativity Media’s “Machine Gun Preacher” had an O.K. opening in just four theaters with $44,000 or $11,000 per theater.  Sundance Selects’ “Weekend” effectively sold out its one screen at the IFC Center in New York City.  It expands to Los Angeles on Friday.

Next weekend’s releases include Summit Entertainment’s “50/50,” Universal Studios’ “Dream House,” the Fox comedy “What’s Your Number?” and the Christian drama “Courageous” in 1,100 theaters.

Final box office results are released on Monday.