Disney’s ‘Lion King’ Leads Ticket Sales for Second Weekend

“The Lion King,” Walt Disney Co. (DIS)’s 3-D re-release of its 1994 animated hit, was the top film in U.S. and Canadian theaters for a second weekend with $21.9 million in ticket sales.

The film edged out four new releases, including the Brad Pitt baseball saga “Moneyball,” which was second with sales of $19.5 million, researcher Hollywood.com Box-Office said yesterday in an e-mailed statement.

“The Lion King” is among at least three older films scheduled for re-issue in 3-D. James Cameron’s “Titanic,” the second-highest grossing film in history after Cameron’s “Avatar,” and George Lucas’s “Star Wars: Episode 1 - The Phantom Menace” are slated for release next year.

“The Lion King” has become “an event film for kids and parents,” said Gitesh Pandya, the editor of movie-tracker BoxOfficeGuru.com. “It’s blasted past everybody’s expectations. I foresee them extending the film beyond its two-week-only run.”

The movie was to play in theaters for two weeks before the release of a 3-D Blu-ray disk on Oct. 4. The 3-D version has taken $61.5 million in ticket sales since debuting in theaters on Sept. 16, according to Hollywood.com.

The film tells the story of Simba, a lion cub who runs away after being tricked into thinking he was responsible for his father’s death. The 1994 film won Oscars for best original score and best original song.

‘Dolphin Tale’

“Moneyball” is based on the book by Michael Lewis. It’s the story of Oakland Athletics General Manager Billy Beane’s effort to transform his budget-constrained team from also-rans into winners. The film co-stars Jonah Hill and Philip Seymour Hoffman.

The film “has the possibility of reaching the $100 million mark,” said Pandya. “The reviews were terrific and the word- of-mouth from audiences has been very strong.”

“Dolphin Tale,” based on a true story, was third with sales of $19.2 million in its debut. The film is about a dolphin who is rescued after becoming entangled in man-made debris. Scientists developed a prosthetic after the animal’s tail had to be amputated because of infection.

Morgan Freeman, Ashley Judd and Harry Connick Jr. star in the film from Time Warner Inc. (TWX)’s Warner Bros.

‘Killer Elite’

“Abduction” opened in fourth place with $10.9 million. The film, starring “Twilight” actor Taylor Lautner, is a thriller about a man seeking to uncover the truth about his background. The movie is from Vancouver-based Lions Gate Entertainment Corp.

“Killer Elite” debuted at fifth place with $9.3 million. The action film stars Jason Statham as a former special operations expert who comes out of retirement to rescue his mentor. Clive Owen and Robert De Niro co-star.

Weekend revenue for the top 12 films rose 16.6 percent to $105.9 million from the year-earlier period, Hollywood.com said. Domestic box-office receipts this year have declined to $7.85 billion. Attendance is down 5.6 percent, and revenue is down 3.6 percent.

The amounts below are based on actual ticket sales for Sept. 23 through yesterday.

                       Rev.            Avg./   Pct.   Total
Movie                 (mln)  Theaters  Theater Chg.   (mln)  Wks
================================================================
 1 THE LION KING      $21.9   2,330   $9,412   -27    $61.5    2
 2 MONEYBALL           19.5   2,993    6,516    --     19.5    1
 3 DOLPHIN TALE (3-D)  19.2   3,507    5,461    --     19.2    1
 4 ABDUCTION           10.9   3,118    3,504    --     10.9    1
 5 KILLER ELITE         9.3   2,986    3,115    --      9.3    1
 6 CONTAGION            8.5   3,136    2,695   -42     57.0    3
 7 DRIVE                5.8   2,904    1,985   -49     21.4    2
 8 THE HELP             4.4   2,695    1,622   -33    154.4    7
 9 STRAW DOGS           2.1   2,408      852   -60      8.8    2
10 I DON’T KNOW HOW     2.0   2,490      804   -55      8.0    2
11 THE DEBT             1.3   1,067    1,181   -57     29.0    4
12 PLANET OF THE APES   1.2   1,178      987   -56    173.6    8


Top 12 Films Grosses

   This Week     Year Ago      Pct.
     (mln)         (mln)       Chg.
===================================
    $105.9         $90.8       +17


Year-to-date Revenue

     2011          2010
      YTD           YTD        Pct.
     (mln)         (mln)       Chg.
===================================
    $7,850        $8,141      -3.6


Year-to-date Attendance:     -5.6%

To contact the reporters on this story: Michael White in Los Angeles at mwhite8@bloomberg.net; Sarah Mulholland in New York at smulholland3@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Anthony Palazzo at apalazzo@bloomberg.net

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