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DOLPHIN TALE #3, Taylor Lautner/ABDUCTION #4; THE HELP Passes $150m: Box Office

Austin Stowell, Dolphin Tale, Nathan Gamble
Nathan Gamble, Austin Stowell, Dolphin Tale

Brad Pitt/MONEYBALL Tops Friday; THE LION KING 3D Likely to Top Weekend: Box Office

Dolphin Tale was the no. 3 movie at the North American box office on Friday, Sept. 23, according to studio estimates found at Box Office Mojo. The 3D drama based on real-life events collected $5.11 million at 3,507 locations, and – as a movie appealing to the weekend matinee crowd – it may possibly end up ahead of Brad Pitt's Moneyball when final weekend figures are tallied.

Directed by Charles Martin Smith, the star of the 1983 nature drama Never Cry Wolf, Dolphin Tale has a solid 88 percent approval rating among Rotten Tomatoes' top critics. The cast includes Harry Connick Jr, Ashley Judd, Nathan Gamble, Austin Stowell, Frances Sternhagen, Cozi Zuehlsdorff, Kris Kristofferson, and Morgan Freeman.

Taylor Lautner's first solo starring vehicle, Abduction, grossed $3.8 million at no. 4. Despite the horrible reviews – 0 percent approval rating among Rotten Tomatoes' top critics – and the fact that Lautner is an as-yet unproven leading man, the John Singleton-directed thriller is expected to reach $11 million by Sunday evening – unless Friday turns out to have been the film's top day thanks to eager twihards who can't wait until November and The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 1 to take a look at their idol.

On the other hand, if the $11 million estimate is correct, then that's more than what Nicolas Winding Refn's widely acclaimed Drive earned last weekend in spite of the presence of Ryan Gosling and Carey Mulligan. And at Deadline.com, Nikki Finke claims that Lionsgate's Abduction marketing expenses were one-fourth the amount Warner Bros. spent on Dolphin Tale and Sony Pictures on Moneyball.

In addition to Lautner, Abduction features Lily Collins, Sigourney Weaver, Maria Bello, Michael Nyqvist, and Alfred Molina. Shawn Christensen penned the screenplay.

At no. 5, the action/thriller Killer Elite, starring Jason Statham and Robert De Niro, opened with $3.5 million and may reach $10m by Sunday evening. I'm willing to bet that Abduction will remain ahead of Killer Elite for the weekend; we'll find out if I'm right on Sunday morning, when weekend estimates are released.

Steven Soderbergh's Contagion took in $2.62 million at no. 6. The disease & hysteria drama stars Matt Damon, Marion Cotillard, Kate Winslet, Jude Law, John Hawkes, Laurence Fishburne, and Gwyneth Paltrow. Contagion was followed by Drive with $1.88m. Despite the generally excellent reviews, chances are Drive won't be on the top-ten chart very much longer.

At no. 8, The Help pulled in $1.31m. Tate Taylor's comedy-drama featuring Emma Stone, Bryce Dallas Howard, Viola Davis, Octavia Spencer, Jessica Chastain, Sissy Spacek, Cicely Tyson, Mary Steenburgen, and others, passed the $150m milestone on Thursday. Its current total is $151.35m.

Rounding out the top ten were Rod Lurie-James Marsden-Kate Bosworth's Straw Dogs with $685k and Sarah Jessica Parker's I Don't Know How She Does It with $677k.

Among the top ten, The Lion King 3D, boosted by 3D surcharges, posted the highest per-theater average, $2,577. I Don't Know How She Does It posted the lowest, $272, followed by Straw Dogs' $284. That means last weekend's newcomers will be gone rather rapidly.

Dolphin Tale image: Jon Farmer / Warner Bros.

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1 Comment to DOLPHIN TALE #3, Taylor Lautner/ABDUCTION #4; THE HELP Passes $150m: Box Office

  1. pn

    Yes, Aduction and Drive made about the same amount on OW but if you want to make an educated comparison, it would nice to mention a huge difference between production budget of those two movies. Drive's budget is only $15M while Abduction was $40M according to BOM (recently deflated to $35). I also doubt the facts provided by deadline.com. It just doesn't add up. Lautner was heavily promoting the movie. Premiere in Australia and whatever else he was. He was on various talk shows and I saw Abduction trailer many times during popular TV shows and sports programs. On the other hand, I didn't catch any ads for Drive or Killer Elite.
    And another thing, it's clear by now that Nikki Finke is being hand fed by Lautner's PR team and the studios who invested into him before he proved himself as a leading man. I've read Taylor is expensive and those guys can't afford their investment to go sour. I expect to see more of heavy handed PR campaigns in the future to protect their investment.


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