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Box office: Pitt and Lautner couldn’t dethrone The Lion King

The Lion King maintained its crown at the box office Sept. 23-25, holding back Brad Pitt’s Moneyball, Morgan Freeman’s Dolphin Tale and Taylor Lautner’s Abduction. The feel-good movies ruled the weekend, while action fell flat, but nothing could compete with Simba’s 3D roar.

In what turned out to be the highest grossing September weekend in history, The Lion King in 3D claimed the number one spot at the box office again. Inspiring real life stories Moneyball and Dolphin Tale battled for second, leaving the new action releases Abduction and Killer Elite in their dust.

The Lion King 3D rules the box office again

With audiences raving about the 3D facelift as well as the resonance of the classic tale, The Lion King brought in another $22.1 million this weekend for the win. That puts its ten-day box office take at $61.7 million, and its 17-year take at $390.2 million. Disney only brought The Lion King back for a two week run, but with the $400 million mark in sight we may see it in theaters for a bit longer.

Brad Pitt and Jonah Hill‘s Moneyball and Morgan Freeman‘s Dolphin Tale were neck-and-neck over the weekend, coming in just $2 million behind the King for second and third, respectively. Pitt has seen better numbers in the past, but Moneyball performed well for a baseball picture and is also garnering awards show buzz.

Moviegoers were less interested in the weekend’s big action offerings. Not even teen heartthrob Taylor Lautner could churn out big numbers with the threat of helicopters, secret agents and bad guys. Abduction banked $11.2 million for fourth place. Lautner is guaranteed to see better number when The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 1 drops this November, but failed to prove he can bring in box office bucks without Jacob’s growl, let along make any strides toward his big Oscar dream.

Jason Statham, Clive Owen and Robert De Niro‘s Killer Elite closed out the top five, but didn’t even break $10 million.

Contagion banked an additional $8.6 million for sixth place, bringing its 17-day total to $57.1 million. Drive followed with $5.8 million, bringing its ten-day to $21.4 million. The Help worked up another $4.4 million, for eighth place and a new total of $154.4 million. Straw Dogs and I Don’t Know How She Does It closed out the top ten with about $2.1 million each.

While The Smurfs are down to fifteenth place stateside, the little blue guys continue to rule the overseas market and have officially blown past $500 million mark, worldwide.

Next weekend, Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Seth Rogen take on cancer in 50/50. Anna Faris looks for love, with Chris Evans‘ help, in the rom-com What’s Your Number. Daniel Craig, Rachel Weisz and Naomi Watts go for screams with Dream House. There is also a slew of new limited releases dropping, including Tucker and Dale vs. Evil, Munger Road, Margaret, Finding Joe, Thru the Moebius Strip, Take Shelter and Sarah Palin: You Betcha!. Also keep your eye out for Gerard Butler’s Machine Gun Preacher, which performed well in New York and Los Angeles and expands Sept. 30.

Box Office Top Ten: September 23-25, 2011

1 The Lion King (in 3D)  $22.1 million
2 Moneyball $20.6 million
3 Dolphin Tale $20.3 million
4 Abduction $11.2 million
5 Killer Elite $9.5 million
6 Contagion $8.6 million
7 Drive $5.8 million
8 The Help $4.4 million
9 Straw Dogs $2.1 million
10 I Don’t Know How She Does It $2.05

Images: Disney / Source: Box Office Mojo

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